Social skills are the primary teaching tool used at Home On The Range. Patterned after a similar approach at Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Town in Nebraska, a program was designed to meet our specific needs. Using proven methods, staff members work to change the attitudes and behaviors of residents, helping them become more productive citizens. Research indicates that this type of teaching method also is effective in promoting better relationships between residents and staff – a primary focus is on reinforcing and praising the use of appropriate skills. Home On The Range has many employees who are certified trainers of the Social Skills curriculum by Boys’ Town. Every employee receives training each year.
Issues of family problems, alcohol and drug addiction, anger management, and physical and sexual abuse are dealt with through scheduled therapeutic sessions. A treatment program is established according to the individual needs of the child.
Daily programs of work, education, recreation and spiritual growth are designed to set the resident on a path to achievement. This structured schedule encourages development of healthy, productive routines to last a lifetime.
Through meaningful work programs, Home On The Range residents learn skills and develop a sense of responsibility, pride and achievement. Residents encounter a variety of job situations during their stay and earn a weekly bonus according to individual job initiative and performance. This type of “real world” training allows residents to experience the rewards and consequences of employment, while allowing them opportunities to learn job skills under trained supervision.
Home On The Range residents attend public school. The residents benefit from the scholastic programs, social interaction and involvement in co-curricular activities. Academic support and tutoring are available to all residents. Home On The Range also has a campus classroom that holds 12 students. This small room is similar to a country school, wherein it can have students in grades 7-12 and has three teachers to provide more one-on-one help and structure.
The goals of daily recreational activities are to teach youth how to structure free time by having fun, learning new skills, and enhancing self-esteem. Indoor and outdoor recreational activities, both on- and off-site, offer a variety of organized and leisure-time activities. Some of the activities include basketball, frisbee golf, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, hiking through the hills of Home On The Range, and barbecues.
Developing a living faith and focus on a spiritual life is encouraged at Home On The Range. Throughout its history, Home On The Range has become synonymous with care, love, discipline, responsibility and motivation. Home On The Range has a pastoral assistant who provides continual spiritual guidance through retreats, music, prayer and Bible study.
Why Should Organizations Support This Project?
All of our youth have used dysfunctional coping skills to manage problems in the past. In many cases, these coping skills have been survival skills. Regardless of how dysfunctional the behavior has been, it is difficult to get youth to learn more functional behavior if that dysfunctional behavior has, quite literally, kept them alive.
All of our children have experienced trauma most of us couldn’t imagine. They have been sexually abused, physically and emotionally abused, and moved from place to place. If running away or fighting or stealing has helped these children survive, we have to work quite hard to convince them to change. Children whose every waking moment is consumed with thoughts of staying safe have little time or energy left for learning.
Our task is to resolve these problems, teach appropriate coping skills, heal trauma and do it in a matter of months. Once the children have completed their program at Home On The Range, they return to their communities and families. They become young adults and begin to plan their future. That future may be finishing high school and attending college, beginning a career, or starting a family of their own – but all of them will hope to become productive and responsible citizens in communities and towns across the state of North Dakota.