INDEPENDENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas Youth Sheriffs' Ranches across Arkansas provide group foster homes for at-risk children.
The ranch in Independence County just had to expand because of an increase in girls in the program.
Previously, there were three boy homes and one girl home on the property, just outside of Batesville.
But ranch staff have seen an increased need for girls to enter the program and they hate to turn children away, so they are re-purposing a home on the property to be a second girl's home.
The new house will hold eight girls.
"We're going to split it by age," Director of Communications Emily Ives said. "So we will have 12 and under at this house and 13 and older at the other house."
Three girls were moving into the new home.
One stigma that the ranch director hopes to dispel is that the kids are juvenile delinquents.
He said many are either in state custody or have guardians who cannot care for them anymore.
"Another situation we get is where grandma and grandpa are raising their grandkids and they get to a certain age where they can't physically do it," Director Philip Ives said. "That would probably be the biggest thing that we take as a private placement."
Philip Ives said it does not cost those grandparents to send the child to the ranch because they are a nonprofit organization.
The ranch staff hopes to prepare their kids to succeed once they leave their care.
"When they're in the home they learn how to cook, they learn how to do chores, they learn how to do their own laundry," Philip said. "We actually are a working ranch with 100 head of cattle, so they know how to bail hay and put up hay and feed the cattle and feed the goats. So, we try to instill a lot of responsibility while they're here because they normally would not get that."
Youth can actually stay in the program until they are 21 years old if they wish, instead of the traditional 18.
Philip Ives said there is an apartment on campus that those older than 18 can stay in while they find a job or go to college and learn to be independent.
If you want to help further the ranch's mission, you can donate on their website by clicking here.
Philip Ives said they also accept non-monetary donations like appliances and supplies for the homes and people can also volunteer to help at the ranch with the kids.
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