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Our kids are as young as three and as old as 18. They have experienced domestic violence. Their dads are not in their lives. They are abused. They are neglected. They have been exploited. They are homeless. They are unsafe at home. They have fled. They have been involved with child protection. They have broken laws. They are on probation. They have acted out. They have run. They have emotional challenges. They are sad. They have attempted suicides. They are angry. They lie. They are honest about their pain. They are running from it. They do not belong. But they all have hope.
We provide a refuge for kids that have no where else to go. We first stop the harm and help them feel safe. Then we give them a dependable routine with competent caretakers and build healthy relationships. We show compassion by staying by their side throughout their pain. We help them find, rely on and trust family. We concentrate on reconnecting each child to the greater community. Finally, we believe it is important to give them the foundation of a strong connection to us and confidence to find happiness in their future. To do this work well we must keep our word.
Over the years, Youth Homes has developed a diverse and community representative board which oversees our seven group homes and programs in foster care, kinship, adoption and family support as well as wilderness treatment and a Learning Lab located in the public schools. Youth Homes serves nearly 150 youngsters each day. Youth Homes has 120 staff and an administrative and program leadership group with more than 170 years working to give every child a better life. Youth Homes has cared for 9,000 youngsters since our beginning but never lost the vision of the importance of making a difference for one.
For us it started with long term care and we then built services out in both directions. We built backward to offer the shelter for kids when they went into crisis. We built broadly as we developed long term group homes that included treatment as well as a variety of populations. We built forward to add foster homes to move kids into families after treatment and adoptions for families who could provide permanency for some. We added family support to offer the same support for bio-families. We have built diversity in services with wilderness-based therapeutic intervention and learning labs to support education. We have addressed the cultural needs of our Native children and the uniqueness of the varied backgrounds of the many children and families we meet and attempt to help.
We are fiscally responsible and effective in our approach. We operate with a balanced budget of more than five million dollars and work to create a reasonable reserve for emergencies and further development for needs and services. The margin of excellence in our care and treatment must come from our donors. These gifts represent 10%, about $500,000 each year, of our annual budget. All of our capital improvements also come from private donors and grants. Our costs are half the cost of out of community treatment and equally or more effective in treatment of the problems.
We do this work with the help of our neighbors, friends and greater community. Without this unique and compassionate network of people of Western Montana, we would not be able to provide each child with the opportunity for change and hope in tomorrow. We recognize this support and always focus on ways to show our gratitude and let each person know they are keys in the pursuit of our mission. We strive to give back in many ways, including providing education on the needs of our community’s children. As advocates, we are a voice for the betterment of youth.
Because we are here, we can make a big difference. We do this work because we believe we share in the responsibility of raising children and it is our integrated efforts that provide the chance for success many times over. We have and can help save lives. We help these children feel stronger and have more faith in themselves and the adults around them. They achieve in school. They succeed in relationships. They earn a fair and decent wage. They help make our communities brighter which gives everyone more hope for the future.