A Place to Heal
Perhaps the best gift a child can receive by the time he or she is grown is a supportive and healthy upbringing. While many are fortunate enough to receive this gift, the truth is that this isn’t the case for everyone.
“I keep thinking that North Dakota is a pretty small state – eventually we have to run out of kids to help. Unfortunately, that’s never true,” says Tammy Noteboom, vice president of communications at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.
Luckily, the staff at the Ranch offer a place where troubled children and families can seek help, healing, and hope along a path to success and happiness.
As a residential treatment and educational center for youth ages 10 to 19, the Ranch offers a holistic healing experience and the highest level of youth psychiatric care in the state. With campuses in Bismarck, Minot, and Fargo, the Ranch provides in- and out-patient services to roughly 1,000 individuals each year.
The campus in south Fargo, served by Cass County Electric Cooperative, is home to living quarters for 16 children, classrooms, a gymnasium, a nutrition center, and a chapel. The residents and other patients of the Ranch seek help with complex behavioral and/or psychological conditions. Due to the scope of services provided, Noteboom says that the Ranch is typically not the first place that children are sent for help. In fact, she says that on average, patients have been through nine placements prior to coming to the Ranch. Trauma, in one form or another, is something that many of the Ranch’s patients have endured.
“They are good kids who have been through horrific things,” Noteboom says.
At the Ranch, the goal is simple: help these kids be able to live a normal life. Staff are versed on the impacts of trauma and use a compassionate, understanding approach that children may not experience in their home lives or in traditional education settings.
“We have great professionals whose only focus is, ‘how can I help this child be well?’” says Noteboom.
The Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities located at all three campuses provide access to the expertise of a multi-disciplinary team focusing on individualized care for children with chronic psychiatric and behavioral health issues. Likewise, the Residential Child Care Facilities offer a supportive and safe place for troubled kids to live. Both facilities include basic needs care, recreation and wellness services, therapy options, spiritual services, and education.
Through the fully accredited Dakota Memorial School (DMS), children can continue their education from any level. Specialists work with home schools to ensure a smooth transition and transfer of credits. Class sizes are small, allowing DMS teachers to provide individualized attention.
Classrooms are also set up differently than those in traditional schools, with features such as colored lighting and secluded spots that offer an extra feeling of safety and security. The unique setting makes for a learning environment that better suits students struggling with psychiatric disorders. In addition to serving Ranch residents, Dakota Memorial School is available to students who live off-site but benefit from the specialized environment.
Children at the Ranch are encouraged to embrace their strengths and express themselves creatively. An on-site art studio and a music recording studio allow residents to learn new hobbies while creating art. The creations are sometimes shared with others as messages of overcoming obstacles and self-growth.
Family therapy sessions foster long-term recovery by offering family members the chance to learn and grow along with the child. While the Ranch offers a safe home for troubled children for a while, Noteboom says the mission is not for them to stay, but is instead to help them heal and be able to return to their homes.
“We strive to give them at least a little slice of hope so they can see that life can be different.”
To learn more about Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch and to find out how you can contribute, visit dakotaranch.org.