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New Perspectives - Mar, 2000 Issue #67 

Bailie Memorial Youth Ranch
Mesa, WA
Ralph Vreugdenhil,
Child Care Supervisor

Bailie Memorial Youth Ranch, designated as a Child Placing Agency, has five licensed foster homes on a fifteen acre central campus in the middle of a forty-two-hundred-acre ranch near the Tri-Cities in Washington State. They generally accept boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 14 at enrollment who they determine can be helped by their program, based on information acquired through an extensive application process, reference checks and interview. Applicants need to be able to attend the nearby public school and have had no drug use in the last 3 months. The Ranch screens out a history of inappropriate weapon use, violence, physical or mental disability, pregnancy or involvement in the juvenile justice system, though they will consider special circumstances on a case-by-case basis. They are seeking children who want to be there, and who want to change their behavior. According to the Child Care Supervisor Ralph Vreugdenhil, most kids usually want to stay after they visit the ranch. It is also necessary for the parents to be willing to cooperate with program. The program contacts all 8 to 10 references and they review the application with the foster parents to ascertain whether they think they can be of help.

The primary change agents are the foster parents in each of the five houses. They maintain consistent house rules and monitor the behavior modification-based level system in the household that allows students to earn points for privileges and allowance. Although the large 6,000 square foot group homes were intended for more occupants, they have a maximum of five students in each house. If needed, students can work with a masterís level counselor, or if needed, a professional in the tri cities.

The average length of stay is 17 months. They determine when it is appropriate to leave based on how well the student has reached the treatment goals that were established by the parents and child at upon admission. They also assess whether there have been adequate changes in the childís home, often determined by a visit. If necessary, a child can stay until they graduate or turn 18.

They attend the public school in No. Franklin County, which enrolls about 300 kids. Students at the ranch are encouraged to get involved in sports at the school. They also able to take vocational education classes the school, and acquire other skills necessary to become independent.

The program is operated by the Bailie Foundation, and offers a reasonable monthly tuition and liberal scholarship program.

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