Schools & Program
Visits - Aug, 1994 Issue #29
YELLOWSTONE TREATMENT CENTERS
Rusty Lundin, Director of Marketing
Lon's Visit: July 19, 1994
Located on 400 acres among the wheat and corn fields a few miles outside Billings, Yellowstone Treatment
Centers shows many signs of their evolution from the original Boys Ranch which started in 1957. The water tower (which is still in
use) has the original YBR emblem from the days of the boys ranch. The sign over the main entrance welcomes the visitor to Yellowstone
Boys and Girls Ranch, and of course the current staffing is appropriate for a facility working with children ranging from those having
behavioral problems to those seriously disturbed.
A few years ago they took steps to qualify for Medicaid, along with JACHO accreditation etc., in order
to better serve children who had considerable needs but whose parents did not have insurance or personal resources to cover the tuition.
Thus, they took on the name of Yellowstone Treatment Center. However, as Director Loren Soft emphasized during my tour, the original
elements of the ranch are still as important as ever. This includes the work ethic, (students still work on the farm and with animals
as well as take responsibility for keeping their living space and the grounds clean), structure (consequences are clear, immediate
and appropriate), and character building recreation (swimming pool, how to handle a canoe, extensive ropes course, etc.). Although
these elements belong in a treatment center, they also can stand alone as healing tools without extensive therapy and probably are
the most important elements for the healing of a child who has only behavioral problems. They are of course inadequate for the child
who is seriously disturbed.
Another element that is available to the young people is the nondenominational chapel. Participation
is high because it is effectively geared to the basic needs, especially spiritual needs, of all young people. Walking in the door,
the sense of safety permeates the building, more so than any other part of the campus I saw. Biblical lessons are applied to the actual
problems and challenges the young people are working on, which includes a welcoming ceremony for each new child, and a graduation
ceremony for each one who is graduating.
As are most other treatment centers around the country, Yellowstone Treatment Centers is wrestling with
current changes in the administration of Medicaid, insurance, and the growth of HMOs. The third party payment environment is changing
rapidly for Yellowstone Treatment Centers, and Director Loren Soft is exploring ways to respond to the changing environment while
still maintaining their integrity and the success of their mission, which is to provide the best service possible to young people
in need from Montana and elsewhere in the country. I'm sure he would like to hear the ideas of others who are looking at the same
Copyright © 1994, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced
without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)