So, what’s next? As Boys Ranch begins its 81st year, and with such a history of commitment, knowledge and innovation, what lies around the next bend for us?
As an industry, the trends point toward a future filled with ever-increasing personalization. In an extension of where Boys Ranch is today, we’re likely to see the childcare field provide even greater focus and attention to each child’s individual needs and, not surprisingly, a corresponding increase in the number of individualized interventions available to meet those needs. In the children’s homes themselves, we’re likely to see that same evolution towards individualization result in fewer children sharing a room. In many cases, a single child per room will become the norm. And, as state governments begin to reexamine their own effectiveness in caring for hurt, neglected or abandoned children in group environments, might we see that model begin to give way to increasing reliance on specialized organizations like Boys Ranch?
It’s an intriguing notion. To be certain, kinship, foster and other forms of family-based or family-like care are the norms of childcare today, but is society also awakening to the realization there’s a valuable niche for the increased community residential childcare like Boys Ranch provides? The need for care is unlikely to ever disappear; around the globe today, some 2.7 million children between birth and 17 years of age find themselves living in some form of residential childcare outside his or her home. The stressors that can lead to a need for out-of-home placement — lack of family involvement and bonding, single-parent homes, drug and/or alcohol abuse, legal entanglements, neglect or abuse — are certainly not going away.
In contrast to decades past, however, fewer and fewer children spend many years in care outside their homes. (That’s usually a good thing!) Today’s trend toward shorter placements may or may not continue, but it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever again see long-term placements as the norm. Given that, caring environments like Boys Ranch — and the focused, expert care we provide — allow a child to receive the maximum therapeutic benefit from the time he or she spends away from his family.
As the field of childcare evolves, Boys Ranch will continue to maintain its leadership among our peers. Our caring professionals will continue exhaustively train and immerse themselves in the leading research of our day. We’ll no doubt expand our nationwide impact as well. At any given point, Boys Ranch is home to young people from about 30 states. (In our 80-year-history, we’ve been home to children from 49 different states!)
Beyond the life-changing work that takes place every day at Boys Ranch, an increasing part of our world will be education. An increased emphasis on regional events will help educate our communities on the impact of poverty, crime and culture on our nation’s children, while also providing stronger connections between Boys Ranch leadership and the men and women who make our work possible.
After all, those who supported our work know Boys Ranch regularly shares stories of our youth’s successes, and there’s no better way to measure our efforts than changed lives. Bringing Boys Ranch staff, and in some cases, youth into the communities that support us also puts a very real face on those successes.
As our world changes, the supportive sense of community and commitment to faith, integrity and perseverance Boys Ranch represents will continue to be more needed than ever. It’s a challenge we’re up to facing, and one Boys Ranch is uniquely qualified to meet!