Prior to the 30-day staffing, each resident is assigned a case manager and primary counselor. This team will work closely with the resident, county workers, family/foster family and others involved to provide information, counseling and support throughout the girls stay at the Ranch and also in planning for discharge and after care. Each girl works with their case manager and primary staff to develop an individual case plan and goals throughout their stay. Goal work is accomplished in many ways at Heartland Girls’ Ranch.
Heartland Ranch provides a variety of groups to meet the Treatment Plan goal areas of our residents. Educational groups are run in two semester sessions during the school year. Each group is one evening a week and lasts for about an hour. We generally keep the group size at 3-6 girls. Girls Circle and Positive Peer Culture Group are run weekly.
Educational Groups at Heartland change with the needs of the residents each semester and generally last 10-12 weeks. They are designed to be educational, supportive and a safe place for discussion. Groups that have been included are: Chemical dependency, Children of addiction, Sexuality, Prostitution, Family Issues, Wellness, Self-Esteem/Body Image, Social Skills and New Girls Group (varied topics from survival skills to social skills).
Girls Circle- Is an established curriculum that provides a strength-based program designed to meet girls where they are and address a variety of issues through discussion and creative activities. Some of the topics included are, Friendship, Being a Girl, Body Image, Honoring our Diversity, and Mind/Body/Spirit. All of the residents at Heartland participate in this group with their “wing” peers one evening a week.
Positive Peer Culture Group- Is a group that encourages peers to work on communication, relationships issues, problem solving and placement issues in a supportive atmosphere with their “wing” peers along with staff guidance. PPC group occurs at the end of each day. Girls are expected to each share positives of their day and struggles of their day. Peers are then asked to give each other feedback of both a positive and critical nature. It is a time for girls to give each other recognition for positive steps and also a time to hold them accountable to inappropriate choices. Girls may give suggestions of better choices or ways they can support their peer in the changes needed. Each PPC group is followed by 2-4 minutes of Strong Sitting. Strong sitting is a relaxation technique that gives the brain an opportunity to shift. The body posture of crossed leg sitting combined with a straight back in order to open up the chest allows the lungs to fully expand and encourages deep breathing. This exercise contributes to feeling calm and peaceful. Strong sitting has been found to help the mind work in sync with the body, as it reduces stress.
Daily Goal Work:
With the help of their primary counselor, residents develop goals which are prioritized and implemented into their weekly grade sheet. Girls work on goals daily through activities, studying, group work and daily journaling.
One-to-One Counseling Sessions:
One-to-one counseling is provided by all group home counselors. This is done formally in the form of goal work and informally through daily living and interactions. Through daily living the girls learn skills in the areas of peer and authority relationships, responsibility, assertiveness, anger management, communication, hygiene and empathy. Sessions are supervised by case managers, the program director and consulting therapists. In addition residents meet weekly with the school social worker or with specialists in the community.
Heartland Ranch residents are encouraged to be involved in the community. Residents are active in the local saddle club, participating in club meetings, horse shows and club sponsored activities. During the summer the girls ride as a drill team in local parades. High level residents give riding lessons to children from the community. All girls have the opportunity of helping with the disabled riding program. Residents are also active in the community as volunteers for summer day camp, participating in town musicals and plays and running the carnival booths for Benson’s “Kid Day”.
Recreational group activities are planned regularly including movies, swimming, bowling, rec. center, biking, skiing and afternoons at the lake. Residents are involved in school activities, community education, drivers training and practice of religion.
Recreation, Leisure and Exercise:
Heartland Ranch provides many opportunities for residents to experience and benefit from a variety of recreation, leisure and exercise activities.
Exercise is an important part of each day. Girls are required to engage in a minimum of one half hour of aerobic activity daily. HGR provides power walking, jogging, a fitness room, aerobic games, and staff led or video exercise tapes to meet this expectation.
Recreation activity is built into each week. Opportunities to do a variety of seasonal activities including, group sports and games, swimming, sledding, ice skating, skiing, rope/challenge courses, hiking, camping and horse riding activities are some of the activities that girls can participate in.
Leisure activity times and free time is also scheduled frequently through out the week. Residents have opportunity to play table games, group leisure games, participate in a variety of crafts, and attend movies and theatre art performances. Residents on higher levels have opportunities to go shopping.
Family involvement is very important to a resident’s stay at the Ranch. Families will be asked to help develop a plan that will help the resident transition from the group home in a positive manner. Home Contracts that outline rules, responsibilities and behavior expectations along with goals or topics that should be discussed during visits help to make a transition easier. On site visits are typically Sundays and arrangements should be made in advance with the resident’s case manager. Parent visits maybe scheduled as situations arise.
Home visits are considered an extension of the resident’s program. During home visits a child and parent can try out new skills, gauge progress and work through issues and concerns. Assignments are sent home for both the child and adult on the Home Visit Contract. Residents are asked to journal about their visit. During the weekend, both the resident and their supervising adult are encouraged to call the ranch and check in. Parents are asked to contact the case managers and discuss how the visit went, the progress they have seen and any concerns or suggestions they may have.
Visits are available two weekends a month. Heartland provides transportation to a general drop off spot in the twin cities. To be eligible, residents must have been at the Ranch for at least 30 days, not be a safety concern and have an approved place to stay (preferably to the place she will return after completion of the program).
The girls at the ranch have many opportunities to learn various work skills. Throughout the year there are a variety of “on campus” projects that are done which give the girls a chance to learn new skills, practice good work habits and gain a sense of accomplishment with completed tasks. Mowing, shoveling, fencing and barn upkeep are some of the maintenance projects that are regular occurrences. The girls have opportunities to learn more specialized skills such as painting, landscaping and construction during the summer on “work project” days. The girls earn wages for their work. On occasion there are opportunities for girls to be involved in paid community work projects. The girls have painted shelters and playground equipment in the local parks. Girls are encouraged to use the skills learned and work opportunities on their resumes.
Aftercare and Discharge Planning:
Discharge planning begins at intake. Plans are designed for each individual resident and families needs and are coordinated through referring agencies and families. Prior to discharge a counselor may meet at the resident’s home with the family in a “circle of support”. Other services may include phone calls, visits to client’s home, and coordination of follow up services in the community of residence.
Accepted for Care:
Heartland Ranch is licensed by the State of Minnesota Department of Corrections and accepts females ages 12 – 21. We serve emotionally troubled children, children with behavior problems and their families. Referrals can include children in need of protective services, adjudicated delinquents and voluntary placements.
Heartland Ranch will not accept clients who are exhibiting extreme aggressive behaviors or are actively suicidal.