SAN ANGELO, TX — The board of directors of the West Texas Boys Ranch announced this week that the Boys Ranch organization will assume operations of the Concho Valley Home for Girls. This will be the fourth separate entity underneath the WTBR umbrella: The Boys Ranch, Sonrisas Trails, the WTBR Foundation, and now the Home for Girls.
Home for Girls board chairperson Joanne Rice is excited about the mission for girls. In her public education career, she served as the principal of Central High School and recalled the impact of the Home for Girls.
“The kids at Central from the Home for Girls were previously made angry that they’d been dealt a bad hand. We saw it turn around for many girls at Central,” Rice said. “The nurturing the Girls Home offered brought the grades up, the attendance was better, The majority of them stayed in school. At Central, we were excited to get a student from the Girls Home because we knew someone at the Home was accountable and addressing any problem we had with the student. A lot of time, even in the best of homes, you don’t get that.”
Rice said, as an educator, she did not recall a single bad engagement with a student from the Home for Girls.
Established almost 50 years ago, the Home for Girls in the past decade became too dependent on government funding. This eventually impacted the Home for Girls capability to operate in the black. Because of State law, when caring for girls transferred to the Home from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, or CPS, mandated staffing costs were more than the State was able to pay. Because of this, the Home for Girls board made a decision to go back to its roots an adopt a similar business model as the West Texas Boys Ranch — to provide a Christian, private home for a teenaged girl at risk, and to do so with private funding, not government cash.
While studying the Boys Ranch model, leaders for the Home for Girls and at the Boys Ranch decided that combining the resources of the two organizations under the WTBR umbrella made the most sense for the community that the organizations serve. Late last year, the Home for Girls board shored up its financial situation with donations to bridge the transition and exited its contracts with the State of Texas. The merge into WTBR was completed this week.
WTBR CEO Jeremy Vincent will oversee the day-to-day operations and during the transition the Home for Girls retained its trained staff. Joanne Rice formerly served on the WTBR Board and will be the board chair for the Home for Girls.
Now that the transition is complete, the Home for Girls has no girls, at least not yet. Initially, the Home can serve six girls, aged 13-17. There is infrastructure to expand to 12.
Rice and the board want to opportunity to change the direction in life for at least some of the at-risk girls in the area.
The Home is seeking families who have an adolescent girl who is not being successful and needing help. The program is for the troubled teen to live in the home for at least 12 months. Typically, the girl is having behavioral issues at home. Typical results of behavioral problems are flunking classes, hanging out with the wrong crowd, or even breaking the law. The Home also will target girls in juvenile probation. Oftentimes, the girl is being cared for by extended family or a guardian, Vincent said.
“The main thing is we give the young ladies a chance. Usually the family will have given up on the girl. We will provide the appropriate resources for them to exceed,” Rice added. “If this home didn’t exists, we’d probably see these girls out on the streets. They’d be in CPS more than likely. They might be living on someone’s couch and they won’t have any structure,” Rice said.
“What we need right now is to get these six beds filled and get the staff started nurturing the girls in the program,” Rice added.
“What we need more than anything is prayers. Pray for the girls that we will have in our care,” Vincent said.
The WTBR organization impacts hundreds of children each year. Approximately 145 kids participate in the Sonrisas Trails programs. The Boys Ranch has the capacity to impact about 45 kids on the ranch annually. Vincent estimates that once the Home for Girls mission is underway, it will eventually positively impact not just the six residents, but also 50 more foster children annually in its transition program.
“The leadership at WTBR has created a culture to do as much for serving the children in our community as possible. Whether it is the Boys Ranch, the WTBR Foundation, Sonrisas Trails, and now the Home for Girls, we are doing everything we can to serve a the greater population of the Concho valley,” Vincent said.