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Viewpoint: Huge summer for the Idaho Youth Ranch

Idaho Youth Ranch marks first anniversary of devastating fire, prepares to open $35 million residential center.

The Idaho Youth Ranch has been helping Idaho kids for about 70 years. It started as a ranch for "wayward boys" in the desert outside Rupert in the 1950s. The Youth Ranch says it has now grown into a statewide agency serving Idaho's most vulnerable youth and their families.

It's now about to enter a new era of carrying out that mission. The brand new Residential Center for Healing and Resilience in Caldwell will begin accepting young clients on August 15. The grand opening is August 10.

The nonprofit serves kids across the state who need mental and behavioral health services. The residential center will provide long-term therapy and education for dozens of Idaho kids between the ages of 11 and 17 every year who have experienced forms of trauma in their past.

The Idaho Youth Ranch raised $35 million in mostly private funding to build it. It also got some funding from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The 258-acre setting includes two residential halls, a wellness center, a dining and recreation hall, an education center and a welcome center for families. 

The youth ranch says the kids will be supported with 24-hour nursing, psychiatric care, therapy, and a year-round school. 

"They'll be coming from a lot of different backgrounds," Residential Center Medical Director Dr. Spencer Merrick said. "A lot of the kids we're working with will have experienced a lot of trauma of various types, a lot verbal, emotional, physical abuse or neglect, and some without trauma but with a lot of just underlying depression and anxiety, other behaviors that just haven't been able to be managed safely at home. These are kids that need extra support that can't be provided with routine therapy." 
Residential Center Executive Director Deborah Imbrogno explained why it is crucial to have the center in Idaho.

"It's so important because, to do the family work, the youth need to be here," Imbrogno said. "That's where the magic happens when we're working with the families as partners, and they're present and they're engaged. (It's) So important."

The Youth Ranch is holding a hiring event on August 24. They're looking to fill many positions, including therapists, nurses and youth care providers. You can get more information on their website. https://www.youthranch.org/

On this edition of Viewpoint, we'll show you around the new Residential Center for Healing and Resilience and explain how it will help the kids who go there for care.

The center is a major example of what the Youth Ranch's well-known thrift stores fund by selling donations made by people in our communities.

That fundraising took a major hit a little over a year ago. On July 18, 2022 flames engulfed the nonprofit's main distribution center in Boise. The fire destroyed everything in the center's outside yard, and smoke damaged everything inside the warehouse.

On this edition of Viewpoint, we also look at how the Youth Ranch's recovery from the fire is going a year later and what they need to get back to full capacity.

Viewpoint airs Sunday mornings at 9 o'clock on KTVB Idaho's NewsChannel 7.

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