Services for Kids

Not just individualized, but personalized

Not just individualized, but personalized

...the successes and accolades are because we know how to "personalize" education. In her words, "not just individualize, but personalize." Marcia believes deeply in showing respect for each child. She talks about children by name. She knows their strengths. She knows their challenges. She is a strong proponent of trauma-sensitive education. She and her team, in all ways, are child-centered. Because of that, at Dakota Memorial School, the on-campus school of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, "we help at-risk children and their families succeed in the name of Christ."…

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The Power of a Name

The Power of a Name

One thing newer staff have trouble adjusting to at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is the number of nicknames and replacement names the kids ask us to use.…

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"It's a dragonfish!"

"It's a dragonfish!"

“I never thought I’d really be able to tell the stories that are in my imagination.” That was the excitedly delivered message from one of our high school art students as he presented his work to a group of Ranch employees.…

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Blessings for the caretakers of the mind

Blessings for the caretakers of the mind

Many of the children who come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch have not lived with both their biological parents, or either of them, for many years. The children have been in foster care, with relatives, in an adoptive home, or with a single parent. They have been removed from the situation and/or people that caused them trauma. The behaviors and mental illness created by the trauma are now left for the child and their caregivers to navigate.…

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Pondering Holy Week

Pondering Holy Week

Sometimes, as we go through our somewhat sanitized lives, we forget what Jesus went through to get to that remarkable day of Resurrection! We want to jump to the good part… where the good guy, Jesus, wins. We want to celebrate that… with bunnies and chocolates and big meals. But, that undermines the whole Easter story, which, as Olmstead said, truly begins with a baby’s birth in a muck-filled barn.…

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Really Good Healers

Really Good Healers

I firmly believe that Christ is at the center of all healing that happens at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. I am also a firm believer that good science is one of God’s gifts to us. At the Ranch, Faith and Science work hand in hand to meet the needs of the hurting children.…

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Budding Leader

Budding Leader

"I remember being clueless about mental health and not knowing it was an actual problem but looking back on those times and having experience of mental health issues just got me thinking. Why do we look at mental health negatively?”…

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Overdrawn Accounts

Overdrawn Accounts

The kids who come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch have come from situations where everyone’s accounts are overdrawn. The trauma, neglect, insults, and abuse have depleted any deposits made along the way. They also don’t know how to make honest emotional deposits. They have learned to strike out to protect themselves, or be manipulative to get what they need.…

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These Hands

These Hands

“We need to remember across generations that there is as much to learn as there is to teach.” Gloria Steinem Many of the kids at the Ranch have disrupted families. Sometimes parents are in prison. One of our children has weathered the death of both parents and a loving aunt in the last seven months. Some are torn apart by addiction or domestic violence.…

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Typos that Delight Me

Typos that Delight Me

Just before Christmas, I received an envelope carefully addressed by one of our residents to “President Joy.” Inside was a folded piece of red construction paper. On the front of the card, a child had written, "Merry Christmas," and surrounded it with stickers of a Christmas tree and several Christmas stockings.…

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"Two jobs and doing well"

"Two jobs and doing well"

I received a simple email from Cory Taylor, one of our many great Youth Care Workers on the Western Plains Campus in Bismarck.  “‘L’ called and said she is doing well. She couldn’t talk long but she said she has two jobs and is doing well at both. She said to tell everyone she is meaning to stop by when she has the time.”…

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Budding Empathy

Budding Empathy

"Empathy is from the German word, Eingühlung, which means to ‘feel at one with.’ When you empathize with someone, you enter into that person’s emotional or physical pain. You see whatever happened from that person’s perspective.”…

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Aspiring. Future-oriented. Hopeful.

Aspiring. Future-oriented. Hopeful.

Our kids, who have endured so much, have learned to live in the here and now. We work with them to build a new worldview so they can become aspiring future-oriented and hopeful.…

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So Much to Pray For...

So Much to Pray For...

We have so much to pray about. Please keep our staff and kids in your prayers. You are in ours.…

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The Healing Power of Nature

The Healing Power of Nature

At Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, we spend a lot of time getting the kids outside and into nature. That is intentional—because spending time in nature is healing, leading to higher levels of happiness and well-being.…

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Hard Work and Full Hearts

Hard Work and Full Hearts

With a lot of hard work and hearts full of love, our Facilities Teams make the Ranch a home-like environment for our kids.…

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Anything to Reach Them

Anything to Reach Them

All the kids at the Ranch live in group settings. They all have their own rooms and opportunities for quiet time. They share common areas where they do crafts, study, play cards and games, watch television, etc. Of course, we have gyms and classrooms and chapels and dining centers, but the common areas they share with just a few other kids, are their “living rooms.”…

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"You remind me of Rosa Parks."

"You remind me of Rosa Parks."

“You remind me of Rosa Parks. Have a good day, Ma’am.” Hmmm. When I write these weekly emails, I really try to convey the heart of the Ranch, or a sense of God’s work, or somehow show you how truly precious our Ranch kids are. Sometimes though, they are just kids.…

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"They have knives."

"They have knives."

We started a new tradition on our Minot, ND, campus. The Saturday before Mother’s Day is “GROW Day,” or “God Rewards Our Work Day.” It is in its third year, and is fast becoming a favorite.…

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The need for healing must outweigh the pain of separation

The need for healing must outweigh the pain of separation

“There are three ways to really harm children. They are abuse, neglect, and separation from their primary caregiver. We must weigh the harm of each and choose the one that does the least damage.” So said Matt Gebhardt, Casey Family Programs, at the Children’s Behavioral Health and Family Services Conference I recently attended.…

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Restoring a Sense of Rhythm

Restoring a Sense of Rhythm

“Rhythm is important to self-regulation. It is part of being human.” As part of the Ranch’s ongoing cultural commitment to learning, several dozen of our therapeutic staff are engaged in a facilitated book study. The book, “What Happened To You?” by Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey, is a conversation on the topic of trauma and brain development. Dr. Perry is a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and an acclaimed trauma expert, who coincidentally, was born and raised in North Dakota. At Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, we use trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive methodologies in all our work.…

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United in Love this Christmas

United in Love this Christmas

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, I am reminded of the many people who support the work of the Ranch...people like you who make it possible to wrap our children in the care and love they need to heal.  I visited with one of these dear friends earlier this month. He and his wife began supporting the healing of the children at the Ranch in the late 1970s or early 1980s. He lives in Texas, and his dear wife passed in April. He came to the campus with friends because his wife, as well as other family members, is memorialized on the “Tree of Life” sculpture in our lobby, and he wanted to see it in person. Of course, he toured the campus with his friends, too.…

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Ok, this one's weird.

Ok, this one's weird.

Happy Advent Season!   I am becoming something of an authority on unusual Christmas cards. All year long, people donate their partial boxes and singles and “thought- better-of-it" Christmas cards to the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Thrift Stores. Also, the cards from the 1950s and 60s they found in their Christmas decorations, or those left behind by Grandma. The good Ranchers at the Thrift Stores put the complete boxes or in other ways saleable ones into the queue to put out for the Christmas season. The rest go into special boxes for me and others at the Ranch to use as thank you cards in the month of December.…

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How Sweet the Sound

How Sweet the Sound

My favorite poetry memory is of the four or five long poems my dad liked to recite. He had memorized them in grade school and remembered them well into his mature years. I, too, memorized poems in school, but they didn’t stick with me the way Dad’s did for him. I have never been very good at appreciating poetry. I have tried to be moved by it, because that seems like a very grown-up, cultured thing to do. But even after purchasing and reading poetry books, I miss the depth of the poems.…

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Bringing "Sense" to Healing

Bringing "Sense" to Healing

At Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, occupational therapy plays an integral role in the mental health treatment of the children it serves.…

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