Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a residential treatment and educational center for children and their families. We help the most troubled, complicated and amazing kids by providing best-in-class psychiatric therapy and trauma-informed care, where we look kids in the eye, walk with them, and help them become their best selves. In addition to Residential Treatment Facilities in Fargo, Bismarck, and Minot, the Ranch provides Outpatient Psychiatric and Psychological Services, and Spiritual Life Programs. Our on-campus school, Dakota Memorial School (DMS), provides a personalized education for kids who have psychiatric, behavioral and trauma issues.
To really understand what we do at the Ranch, you have to first understand our children. The kids we care for are challenged by poverty, abuse, and neglect; as well as educational, physical, and psychiatric issues. Yet here, they are valued as human beings created in the light of Christ. They learn to believe in themselves and the possibilities in the world around them.
Jacob endured terrible abuse throughout his childhood. “I grew up with a drunken father. He was very violent to my mother and sisters, so I stepped in and took the beatings to protect them. I was 8 when he left,” Jacob said.
Abby was born addicted to meth. Her home life was so bad that her parents were found unfit. By age 7 she was put in foster care. At age 11, she was adopted. As a young woman of 16, she was placed at the Ranch, where she was finally able to face her anger and trauma. Abby said, “I had resorted to violence almost my whole life.”
Jacob and Abby are like many of the kids who come to the Ranch. They’re not bad kids. They just need structure, guidance, and the specialized care we offer.
Most children arrive at the Ranch having experienced significant trauma in their lives. We weave trauma-informed practices into all residential and educational programs. Instead of looking at children and asking, “What is wrong with this child?” we ask, “What happened to this child?” We understand that children’s behaviors all serve a purpose, so instead of punishing them for their behaviors, we find out the reasons behind the behaviors and help them develop new, more appropriate ways, to cope with their feelings and emotions.
While at the Ranch, children are given a chance to experience the love of Christ.
Christ’s presence is truly at work in the lives and work of the staff and children at the Ranch. One way they know Christ’s love is through the nonjudgmental relationships they develop with Spiritual Life staff, youth care workers, teachers, and therapists.
They are also invited to Chapel. Every week in Chapel, Jacob and Abby hear they are forgiven and can receive redemption through the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. They learn about God’s blessings in Spiritual Life groups, individual counseling, and mentoring.