General FAQs

The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Inc. is the parent organization which operates three residential programs: Boys Ranch, Youth Villa Scholarship House, and Youth Ranch/Safety Harbor; three camping programs: Youth Camp, Caruth Camp, and Camp Sorensen; and other family services around the state. The Youth Ranches is a charitable, non-profit corporation, chartered in the state of Florida. The Main Office is located at the Boys Ranch and uses the mailing address P.O. Box 2000, Boys Ranch, Florida 32064. The Main Office provides an umbrella of management services for all Youth Ranches programs.

When families request residential services, a Family Engagement Specialist completes an inquiry screening through discussion with the youth’s legal custodian about the youth and family problems. If the youth is a potential candidate for residential placement, the legal custodian is directed to obtain a Request for Service form from their local Sheriff’s Office. Once the form is completed, the Family Engagement Specialist visits the home and begins a pre-admission study. The youth is then invited to an on-campus interview and placement is either approved or denied by the campus admissions committee. If the youth is not appropriate for placement, a referral is given to another organization better suited to meet the family’s needs.

Yes… Families are asked to contribute to the support of their children in care to the extent they are able to do so. This is determined and documented in a written agreement drawn up at the time the youngster is admitted to residential care. No child, however, has ever been turned away because of a family’s inability to pay. This type of family support payments are only a very small percentage of Youth Ranches income.

All students enrolled in Donald Ralph Cooke School attend chapel at the on-campus, non-denominational All Faiths Chapel. Youth who are associated with specific religious denominations are permitted to attend the church of their choice in the local community or on-campus chapels if available. Weekly church attendance, in town or on-campus, is required, and daily devotionals are a part of cottage life.

Every child is responsible for their own living area and they share in the chores in and around the cottage. There is a well-organized work program at each campus, and each child, from the youngest to the oldest, has a job, regular working hours, and is paid for their work. There are no allowances given, so if there is no work, there is no spending money. Some of the older children are allowed to take part-time jobs in local communities.

Some of the Ranchers attend the public schools in nearby communities. Some program sites operate an on-campus school for Ranchers whose education has been neglected. Each Rancher receives an individual education plan which concentrates on the basics of reading, writing, and mathematics with the objective of advancing the youth to an appropriate level. The Learning Centers also deal with behavior modification and offers a vocational education program.

All youth must be residents of Florida and be between the ages of eight and eighteen. They cannot have reached their eighteenth birthday at the time of admission. They must have average or above average intelligence. They must not be a convicted felon.  They must be in good physical health and have no severe personality problems that would endanger themselves or others. They must agree to attend religious activities and have the potential to perform in the public school system or alternative educational program. Youth must have willingness and motivation to work on personal problems and have no alcohol or drug dependency. 

This figure will fluctuate, depending upon each youth and their individual problems. The average length of stay is around 14 months. Some leave sooner and some stay much longer. Increased emphasis upon working with families (parents or other relatives) while we work with youth has dramatically decreased the average length of stay. We try to reunite youth with their families, if possible. If there is no family and we are not able to find a suitable alternative, the youth may remain with us until they are ready to enter the adult world on their own.

Yes. The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Inc., is one of the select number of residential child-care programs which has achieved national accreditation through the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children, Inc. The residential campuses were accredited in 1989 and are reaccredited every three years since that time. The Florida Sheriffs Caruth Camp, Youth Camp and Camp Sorensen are fully accredited by the American Camp Association.

The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches and its programs are primarily supported by voluntary gifts from the people of Florida. We also have donors from other states, even though we serve only residents of Florida. The gifts come in the form of cash, stocks, annuities, trusts, bequests and non-cash gifts. A receipt and thank you letter is provided for each gift.The Youth Ranches also receives some support from other public sources which enhances our efforts to help the children in our care. For a more detailed look you can view a complete copy of the Annual Report or independent external Auditor’s report.

Yes… All applications for admission are given the same attention and consideration, regardless of the applicant’s race, creed, or color. Our priority for admission is based upon need and our ability to meet those needs much more than any other factor.

The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches conducts many sessions of summer camp at each of its three locations. Its purpose is to provide a wholesome atmosphere and positive camping experience for Florida’s troubled and underprivileged youth (ages 10-15). The camp also provides an opportunity for Deputy Sheriffs and other Law Enforcement volunteers to get personally involved with the youngsters to form positive, healthy relationships. Campers live among their peers, learning how to share and function properly within a group setting. Each youth has job responsibilities. Every day contains a healthy balance between work and play, proving a valuable lesson for maturing youth.

This program brings leadership and team building programs directly into the school. In after school retreats, or as a one day on-site field trip, camp staff lead classes and activities that teach anti-bullying, violence prevention, and cultural awareness skills which help create a more productive learning environment.

This is a mobile camping program that brings camp services directly into local communities. The goals of the Harmony In The Streets Program are to develop and retain a high level of self-esteem, learn how to utilize free time in a positive manner and teach and lead others by role modeling positive leadership skills. The program also teaches youngsters to help foster the acceptance of others and to discover and learn to appreciate the cultural differences of others in the community.