The Idaho Youth Ranch is opening the Residential Center for Healing & Resilience, an inpatient treatment facility serving kids on Medicaid and other insurance in Idaho. (Kyle Pfannenstiel/Idaho Capital Sun)
CALDWELL — Idaho families will soon no longer have to send their children out of state to get their children mental health care inside a residential facility.
The Idaho Youth Ranch is opening a treatment facility called the Residential Center for Healing & Resilience that has 64 beds, all with their own room, and a charter school on a scenic campus only a short drive from downtown Caldwell.
The center will provide 24-hour nursing, psychiatric care, therapy and year-round schooling for over 100 children ages 11-17 years old each year, according to a press release.
Most children who receive treatment at the Youth Ranch facility will be on Medicaid, said Jeff Myers, vice president of marketing and communication, in a Monday interview at the facility. But children on private insurance will also be treated, and the facility, which is under construction, will offer scholarships to kids whose coverage doesn’t fully cover their stay, Myers said.
Next to Youth Ranch’s Equine Therapy Center on its 258-acre campus with trees, fields and streams, the children’s treatment facility hopes to keep Idaho children closer to their families, which leaders say will help children respond better to treatment.
“This is an Idaho challenge that deserves an Idaho solution,” said Idaho Youth Ranch CEO Scott Curtis in an interview with the Idaho Capital Sun. “Not just because we should be taking care of that locally, but because it makes a difference therapeutically. To send youth to another state is another trauma for them to deal with. … To keep them closer to their families and caregivers will help their therapy work be more effective and more lasting.”
Already, 50 children are in queue to get care in the facility, Myers said.
On any given day in Idaho, over 100 kids on Medicaid are being sent out of state to access this residential psychiatric care, Myers said.
The facility will start taking a limited number of patients Aug. 15. The public is invited to tour the facility on Thursday. To protect the privacy of children being treated, the facility generally won’t offer tours after it starts treating patients, Myers said.
Idaho Youth Ranch Residential Facility is meant to feel comfortable
The facility is built around the needs of children who’ll be seeking care there. Each of the six classrooms have restrooms. Hallways are extra wide to let patients maintain personal space. Kids who struggle to sit still in class can even use fidget-friendly seats. The facility’s carpeted floors, wooden ceilings and large windows are also meant to feel more familiar, Myers said.
“It’s not home, but it feels like a home-like environment,” he said.
Every staff member on site, including maintenance workers and cooks, will be trained on how to interact with students, Myers said. The facility plans to use few or no holds, which are when staff have to physically restrain patients, he said.
“We know that if we have to put hands on a kid, it sets back their treatment substantially. So part of it is being aware of all the signs ahead of the time the kids start to get dysregulated so we can intervene, (and) intercept that early,” Myers said. “And part of that is a mindset in training that says we’re gonna do everything we can to avoid that.”
But the facility is still built with features that psychiatric facilities have — like metal fences enclosing the facility’s yards and construction features that prevent children from harming themselves.
The facility features four dorm halls of 16 rooms, each named after different Idaho mountain ranges from southwest, central, northern and eastern parts of the state — Owyhee, Sawtooth, Selkirk and Teton. The facility also has a dining hall, therapy and wellness building and recreation hall.
The charter school, called Promise Academy, is chartered through the Middleton School District, as previously reported by Idaho Education News.
Eventually, the psychiatric care facility may add a new 32-bed building to its campus, Myers said.
The Idaho Youth Ranch raised $35 million to build the youth residential treatment facility — mostly from private donors, but the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare awarded the nonprofit an $8 million grant.
Idaho awarded $15 million in grant funds in December 2022 to three organizations — Idaho Youth Ranch Northwest Children’s Home in North Idaho and Jackson House in eastern Idaho — to build psychiatric residential treatment facilities.
Residential, inpatient care is part of the continuum of care
In 1952, Rev. James Crowe and Ruby Carrie Crowe, a married couple, made their dream possible. They founded Idaho Youth Ranch and bought 2,560 acres of land in Rupert for $1 per acre, per year, with no interest, according to an informational brochure for the facility.
The Crowes “believe a ranch lifestyle could provide the residential care that would meet the needs of Idaho’s youth,” Curtis said.
The couple began by treating boys in the original Idaho Youth Ranch facility in Rupert in the 1950s, Myers said. But the Youth Ranch now has more than six decades of experience providing residential care to Idaho’s children and families, he said.
“It’s been the most consistent thing we have done,” Curtis said.
Residential care is only part of the spectrum of psychiatric care that Idahoans need, Curtis noted. Patients will leave Youth Ranch’s facility and need care elsewhere — from specialists, primary care providers and other mental health professionals. Other parts of the system need to be bolstered as well, he said.
The facility hopes to hire 120 full time staff for the campus, Curtis said. Health professionals looking to work at the facility should visit youthranch.org/careers.
The facility will be slowly ramping up its capacity to treat children, starting with eight children initially, Myers said, and adding eight each month.
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