How to Select a Youth Ranch

The decision to place your child at a youth ranch program for residential treatment isn’t an easy one. However, there comes a time when you know you have done all you can reasonably do on your own. You also know that you want to see your child do better and a youth ranch program could be an opportunity for them to make positive changes.

It is important to understand that there are significant differences out there from one youth ranch program to the next. That is why you have to take your time to find out what is being offered. You need to know your child is going to get the types of treatment that they need. Otherwise, their stay at the facility isn’t going to change the situation that has been taking place at home and it could make things worse.

What does my Child Really Need?

It may be difficult for a parent to really see what their child needs when it comes to a youth ranch program. Some things parents are able to recognize including when their child has a behavior problem, when they aren’t doing well in school, or when they are getting into trouble with the law. It is a good idea to ask professionals their opinions too. They can bring in an objective view. They also have the qualifications to make such assessments.

Such an individual may determine that they feel your child needs psychological assistance. They may feel your child has low self esteem too and that can be closely evaluated. Parents don’t always recognize the signs of problems their children have with alcohol or drugs. However, a professional can do an assessment to find out if that is part of the problem.

Once all of the elements that your child needs have been identified, you can look for a youth ranch program that can cover all of them. You will find that many programs do cover more than one issue. Others are specific to just certain aspects of the needs of youth who come to the ranch. However, it makes no sense for them to go to a specialized youth ranch if the problems your son or daughter will not be addressed at that ranch.

What does the Program Consist of?

You need to carefully explore all of the elements of any youth ranch program. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions. What will your child be doing on a daily basis? What type of structure will be in place? Are they going to be taking part in counseling? What is their treatment plan? What responsibilities will your child have? What forms of discipline will be implemented?

All of these types of questions help you to get a clear idea of what will be going on during your son or daughter’s stay at that youth ranch. You need to know that your child it is in good hands while they are at the youth ranch program. Trust your instincts as well. If you aren’t getting good feeling about a facility, it is best to not place your child there. May times, that “gut feel” is an important indicator that the youth ranch under consideration is a bad choice for your child.

Your child should have some fun at the youth ranch program too. This includes sports, art, and other fun activities. Some programs have horses or other animals that the youth help to care for. It is very important that you see structure in the program. You also want to see that your child is going to have many different things to take part in during their time there.


Don’t assume every youth ranch facility out there has the right credentials to do the job. Ask tough questions about the staff. You need to know what their credentials are for operating the facility. You also need to know that background checks are done on the employees. Ask about the experience that they have too for helping your child to succeed in the program.

Do your own research too. You can go online and find out a great deal of information about any youth ranch program. You can find out if they have any complaints against them filed by other parents. You can also find out how long they have been operational.

What will your Role be?

You don’t want to be out in the cold when it comes to your child at a youth ranch program. Find out what your role is going to be. Are you going to be able to go visit your child at certain times and days? Will you get progress reports about what has been taking place? Do you get to help decide when your child is ready to go home?

Find out how all of this is going to work before you place your child into the youth ranch program. You don’t want to assume that you will have control over any of it. Remember, the goal here is to help your child to improve in various areas. Sometimes that has to mean limiting their contact with family and friends outside of the program. Be sure you are comfortable with those limitations before you drive away from a youth ranch leaving your child in their care.

What is the Cost?

Even though parents want to do all they can to place there child at the right youth ranch program, the cost can be a problem that has to be looked at closely. The prices for such facilities can vary dramatically. You want to make sure your child is in a facility that is effective. However, you also need it to be one that you can afford.

Financial stress can create other issues for the household. However, many facilities have payment plans. They may be willing to accept a down payment up front. Then you can pay a set amount each month until the balance is paid. This may be a more realistic method for you to cover the cost of your child attending.

How Long is the Program?

Many youth ranch programs for residential treatment last for a specific period of time. This could be 30 days, 90 days, 6 months, or a year. Others depend on the progress your child makes through the program. There are steps that have to be accomplished and once your child completes all of them, they are done with the program.

While you may not want your child to go away for a year, the reality is that it may take that amount of time for them to really make positive changes on various levels. If they rush through a 30 day program, it may not be enough for them. Then the problems are going to surface again. Finding the balance about how long of a program to consider is something you need to discuss with professionals, taking the needs of your child into consideration.