Bethany and I both have been so excited about getting this blog up and running. It has been a few years in the making! We are passionate about what we do and are eager for others to know more about it. We hope this blog provides a chance for people to get to know the kids we love so much and the place we all call HOME!
In our years as house parents, we’ve received a lot of questions about what we do.
Many people don’t understand what children’s homes or group homes are and others have some negative ideas of them. I can’t speak to what all children’s homes are/are not. I can only tell you about Joy Ranch. I want to tell you more about us as a whole ministry in the hopes of clearing up some misconceptions. That felt like as good a place as any to start this blogging journey!
“I can’t speak to what all children’s homes are/are not. I can only tell you about Joy Ranch.”
First off, let me tell you what we are NOT. We are NOT:
- An institution- a place where the walls are white or some kind of putrid beige and everything feels cold and sterile.
- A medical facility, a rehabilitation center or treatment program.
- A juvenile detention center. (This is not a place for “bad” kids to go as a punishment and be “reformed.”)
- A summer camp. (Lots of people I talk to think that we run things like a summer camp and kids just come and have fun and then leave and we are like camp counselors.)
- A school. (Our kids go to the local public school. We are actively involved in their education, doing homework with them, maintaining correspondence with teachers and attending IEP meetings as needed, for example. But we do not have a school on campus, nor do we provide their education.)
- A boot camp or reform school.
But we ARE:
- Licensed – We are licensed in the state of Virginia to care for children in a home setting. This means we follow state licensing requirements and we have our own policies & procedures that have met state approval. This can be a complicated thing and it’s a lot to figure out. But, it means we want to be held to a standard of care and hold a license to do what we do. (Side note: this does not mean that we are state funded.)
- Christian – We believe in a personal relationship with Christ that is individual to each of us. We read the Bible, we pray together, we talk about God, we go to church. We don’t force anyone to believe what we believe, but it is something we talk about and live out.
- A home – a lot like yours! We live in ranch style homes with bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms and kitchens much like you do! We cook our food and eat our meals together. We all pitch in and do chores to keep things clean and be good stewards of what God has given us. We eat, sleep and live in a home that looks like most other homes. The house parents live in the home with the children and sleep in their own “suite” in the cottage.
- A family – We run each home as much like a family as possible. So, we take our kids to appointments and sports practices and school events. We help them with their homework and school projects. We read bedtime stories. We laugh together, sometimes we cry together and even disagree. We get loud. We have fun. We dance and sing. It’s not all fun and games, but we do enjoy being together. And that family atmosphere extends beyond the cottage. The staff here is very much a family, too. We are a support system for each other in a setting that can be quite challenging and demanding. Living in such an environment means we see the good, the bad and the ugly in each other but I believe what sets Joy Ranch apart is our Christ-centered family approach.
In our cottage, we have this wall hanging in the living room.
I try to look at it daily because it reminds me of who we are and what we do here.
In this house, we do second chances.
We do grace.
We do real.
We do mistakes.
We do “I’m sorrys.”
We do hugs.
We do family.
We do love.
THIS is Joy Ranch.