Recently a friend needed to find a residential program with a different scope than Christian Encounter. In his search he found two programs whose descriptions matched what he was seeking.
The first charged $80,000 per month. I wish this was a typo. On top of a cost so high it tests belief, the timetable for program acceptance is not affected by desperate need; it’s driven by how fast money changes hands or insurers do paperwork. This means a family’s crisis matters as much as they’re willing to pay, and a teen is valued as much as the money they bring. This is simply standard business practice. It also devastates families.
The second program declined admittance because of fear their all-important success metric would be compromised. Come to find out, some diagnoses trigger an automatic rejection by many programs because it’s too risky the teenager won’t turn into a success story.
The contrast with Christian Encounter is stark. For decades, Ranch leaders have refused to be driven by these numbers.
While program success metrics are useful tools for PR departments and can gain entry to high-dollar insurance networks, the danger of the tail beginning to wag the dog is far too evident. The metric displaces the mission. Our mission is hearts healed by the sacrificial love of Christ, not just behavior modification that looks good in the metrics. True and lasting lifestyle changes grow out of hearts shaped by the Gospel.
As for tuition, we charge on a sliding scale. The decision to accept a student is made by the counseling department, which never even sees if families have the ability to pay. This is profound and intentional and the exact opposite of industry standards. It means if a student is a good fit, we bring them in, even when they can never pay a single penny. This is a core commitment of the Ranch, and it’s made possible by our community of generous and faithful supporters, each of whom is declaring these young lives have value.
Ultimately, the Ranch is different because for 50 years we have chosen to function and minister as much as possible like a family. Family members are not valued because they bring in money or check off boxes indicating success. They’re valued because of who they are--souls that Jesus died for, created for purpose, significance, and glory.
Nate Boyd, Executive Director