COVID-19 Update from Youth Ranches President Bill Frye:
We are facing unprecedented times. In my 35 years of working with the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, I can think of no other time like the present. We have experienced multiple financial crises, the last one taking place in 2008-2009. On each of those occasions, we took various steps to reduce the overall negative impact to our work and our mission. This will certainly be the case now, as we experience the effects of COVID-19 on our society.
First and foremost, we are taking every measure possible to protect the health and safety of the boys and girls in our programs. At our residential campuses, taking care of children is our number one priority. This includes a heavy emphasis on hand-washing, thorough cleanings and disinfecting our facilities, and daily temperature checks and assessment of symptoms among the youth in our care. All non-essential visitors are prohibited from coming on campus until a later date, and we have implemented social distancing practices to keep our youth in smaller groups in order to be safe and still allow learning on our campuses.
We have also put steps in place among our staff, starting last week, following the recommendations from the CDC. This includes suspending agency gatherings, moving to virtual meetings, allowing staff to work remotely and postponing all non-essential travel. We made the tough decision several weeks ago to cancel our open house events in Bradenton and Bartow to avoid putting our donors — many of whom are seniors — in an environment where they could be at greater risk of contracting a virus.
We know these measures can be inconvenient and challenging for all of us, but we want to make sure we are taking every precaution to keep our children, staff and supporters healthy and safe during these times — and to ensure we can continue to serve the many children and families who need the services of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches. Thank you for your support! —Bill Frye