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The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches was recenly mentioned in The Ledger's Gigs and Garlands editorial feature, receiving a Garland. The Ledger is located in Lakeland, Florida.
GARLAND: We salute the Florida Sheriffs Ranches and Polk Sheriff’s Charities for their work to establish the Scholarship House in Bartow. The facility will house 10 people who graduate from the Sheriffs Ranches residential program for needy children or from foster care and who go on to vocational training or community college. In addition to providing these young adults a place to live, a full-time staffer will help coach them in life skills. The goal, said Bill Frye, CEO of the Florida Youth Ranches charity, is to surpass the 10 percent national average of such people who finish local college or vocational school.
You can read the entire editorial piece here.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DATE: April 5, 2018
CONTACT: Wayne Witczak (386) 842-5501
FLORIDA – The Trey Curry Foundation continues to Assist Children in Need and is expanding their reach through the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches.
Since the establishment of the Trey Curry Foundation in 2008, their purpose has been to assist children in need. The foundation is utilized to raise funds for worthy causes. Most recently they had focused on A Kids Place in Brandon, FL.
The Trey Curry Foundation recently met their $400,000 goal, establishing “the Trey Curry House at A Kids Place.” The foundation has now set their goals even higher and has turned their attention to reaching even more children.
Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches Director of Development Wayne Witczak said “The Curry family has been dedicated to the assisting children in need and the Youth Ranches is committed to providing help and hope to children in need.”
Witczak, was familiar with the Curry Family and had worked with the foundation in the past. He is pleased to working with the foundation again and helping them to expand their reach to help even more children.
“It seemed like a natural next step for the Trey Curry Foundation and the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches to partner in support of our communities most vulnerable little citizens” added Witczak.
The Trey Curry Foundation is heavily involved in the community and raises their support through events benefiting the charities they support. Trey Fest Captains Party & Fishing Tournament and Vine to Wine are their two major events held annually. These events have been heavily supported by family, friends and the community. Everyone who attends shares a passion for helping children and has been so generous supporting these activities. “We are so proud to be part of this community and to give back honoring the memory of our son Trey” says Terry Curry. “We are a proud supporter of Law Enforcement and feel the Youth Ranches could benefit greatly from our charitable endeavors”.
The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Inc., is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children, Inc., and the American Camp Association. If you would like more information about the Youth Ranches, please contact us at 1-800-765-3797 or visit www.youthranches.org.
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By Bill Frye, Guest Columnist Orlando Sentinel, March 7, 2018 - When a young man decides to go on a rampage and kill as many students as he can, something has gone dreadfully wrong. The horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has generated intense debate over the most effective ways to prevent future acts of senseless violence in our schools and communities.
Much of what we’re hearing now is about gun control, law-enforcement procedures and mental-health programs. While these topics should be debated, there are also serious concerns that our child-welfare systems in Florida and throughout the nation are struggling to meet the needs of troubled youth, making it harder to access the resources and care that many children desperately need. The latest move by Congress, for example, will make the system more complicated and less effective when it comes to serving at-risk girls and boys.
In February, in a last-minute deal to fund the government, the U.S. House passed the Family First Prevention Services Act (House Resolution 5456), which will become law Oct. 1, 2019. Its implications are significant for a state like ours, where nearly 24,000 kids entered the system last year, either with a relative caregiver or a foster home. HR 5456 is intended to keep family units intact, giving states federal dollars to provide support services to families who are under investigation for neglect or abuse and are potentially facing the removal of their child.
The idea is that if parents can get the help they need, such as substance abuse treatment or mental-health counseling, fewer children will need to enter foster care. The bill is clear, however, that in situations where the child is in danger and a suitable family member isn’t available to provide care, the use of a foster home is appropriate. While these provisions make sense, HR. 5456 veers off track by limiting the options for children in foster-care settings.
The bill changes the landscape by removing traditional group homes as a placement option, allowing states to use federal funds for placing kids in foster homes or in qualified residential-treatment programs. Group homes like ours, the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, that receive the majority of funding through private contributions, will continue to serve children even if the federal monies and state placements are eliminated. Many children in our programs are voluntarily placed by their parents or guardians.
However, our homes have been part of Florida’s foster-care system for nearly 50 years, a system that has struggled to keep up with the demand of children needing a place to call home. In a recent incident, caseworkers in Tampa had children sleeping in parked cars at a Wawa gas station, waiting to find a suitable place to go. The Department of Children and Families has been named in a class-action lawsuit primarily due to a shortage of foster homes in the southern region of the state.
If Florida can no longer place children in residential group homes because federal funding has been pulled, then what happens to the teen boy or girl whose life is similar to countless others we have helped over the past 60 years? What happens to the young person who has bounced from foster home to foster home but finds stability and success after coming to live at one of our cottage homes?
We are especially concerned about sibling groups. Homes like ours, Boys Town, Florida United Methodist Children’s Homes and St. Augustine Youth Services offer a way for brothers and sisters to stay together while taking care of other youth who need more care than they could receive in the average foster home but don’t belong in a highly restrictive treatment program. Under the Family First Prevention Services Act, these youth will have fewer places to go.
Fortunately, most kids in our child-welfare system will never do something like the Parkland shooting. But that doesn’t mean our system is where it should be. If anything, this is a reminder that caring for at-risk and troubled children should be an all-hands-on-deck approach. We need more qualified foster parents. We need to stop cutting Medicaid, which provides counseling and mental-health services for children. We need Congress to take a second look at HR 5456 to ensure we’re not removing a successful part of our system and calling it progress.
Bill Frye is the president of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, a residential group care program with four campuses for boys and girls. The Youth Ranches has operated in Florida since 1957.
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BOYS RANCH, Fla., February 22, 2018 - The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches today announced it has achieved national accreditation through the New York-based Council on Accreditation (COA). As part of the accreditation process, COA evaluated all aspects of the Youth Ranches programs, services, management and administration.
"Maintaining our accreditation status is a high priority for our organization," said Bill Frye, president of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, which was first accredited in 1989. "We serve thousands of children and families throughout Florida, and being accredited is part of our commitment to the highest standards of quality and care in all our programs."
Organizations pursue accreditation to demonstrate the implementation of best practice standards in the field of human services. To achieve COA accreditation, the Youth Ranches provided written evidence of compliance with the COA standards, followed by peer reviews and a series of on-site interviews with staff, board members and clients. COA accreditation is an objective, independent, and reliable validation of an agency's performance.
Founded in 1977, COA is an independent, not-for-profit accreditor of the full continuum of community-based behavioral health care and social service organizations in the United States and Canada. Over 2,000 organizations — voluntary, public, and proprietary; local and statewide; large and small — have either successfully achieved COA accreditation or are currently engaged in the process. Presently, COA has a total of 47 service standards that are applicable to over 125 different types of programs. To learn more about COA, please visit COAnet.org.
About the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches
The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk children through its four residential child-care campuses (Live Oak, Bartow, Safety Harbor and Bradenton), youth leadership and summer camping programs. Founded in 1957 by the Florida Sheriffs Association, the Youth Ranches has served more than 152,000 children and families.
The mission of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches is to prevent juvenile delinquency and develop lawful, productive citizens. Voluntary contributions are the primary source of funding, especially gifts made through special bequests in wills and trusts. The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Inc. is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children, Inc. and the American Camp Association. For more information, visit youthranches.org.
Chad McLeod, APR
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Making a postive impact Alexis uses her career to give back.
From a young age, Alexis always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. It wasn’t until the Youth Ranches turned her life around that she understood why.
Alexis came to the Youth Ranch at Safety Harbor in 2010. Her mother had remarried and Alexis and her stepfather never saw eye to eye, which had caused a lot of family problems. The Youth Ranches seemed like her last resort, but what Alexis really found was the support to grow as a person and follow her dreams.
“Ever since I was younger, I’ve always sort of known that I wanted to be a teacher,” Alexis said of her blossoming career. “My time at the Youth Ranches helped me to solidify that decision.” She now teaches the fifth grade in central Florida and sees a lot of herself in her students. “I teach in an area with a lot of lower-income families and a lot of kids who don’t have the best lives at home,” Alexis said. “Being at the Youth Ranch taught me how important it is for children to have good role models. A lot of them don’t have good family support, so I’m their cheerleader. That’s the main reason I do what I do.”
Alexis confesses there were times at the Ranch when she didn’t understand the point or purpose of the skills and lessons being taught in the cottage. “As a teenager, I never understood why it was so important that we all had to gather together at night for daily skill lessons, or even the cottage parents asking each child in the cottage how their day was,” she said with a laugh. “I get it now. I can’t tell you how many times in my daily life as an adult I have used those lessons we were taught by Mom and Pop. I never realized how much that helped me develop my social skills and interactions, which are now a key part of my job.”
She is quick to add that it wasn’t only the support and skills she received from the Youth Ranches that shaped her life; she got the chance to follow her dreams and she hasn’t slowed down. “I was so fortunate to be a part of the Youth Ranches Scholarship Program. Without that, I doubt I would have even been able to go to college at all, let alone have so many options available to me.” Alexis received her bachelor’s degree from Florida Southern and is now planning to continue her education and pursue her master’s degree in educational leadership so one day, she will be able to work in school administration. “I want to make a difference,” Alexis said. “As my long-term goal, I see myself as vice principal of a school.”
For Alexis, above and beyond everything the Youth Ranches has given her and taught her, what it really gave her was a family. “The Youth Ranch, that’s my family,” she said with pride. “They are as much of a family as you can be without being related. When I get in a tough spot or just need someone to talk to, I know they are there. Still to this day, I have them to help guide me. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today without the Youth Ranches.”