There are many children’s homes in the United States and we are proud to say that we share with them the same important calling: caring for vulnerable children. There are even a few ranches that care for at-risk youth, and we commend them for using space and nature to provide a place of healing for children who need that space, as do we. Our prayer is that God blesses their work.
Despite the similarities between the fundamental mission or the broader strategic approach that we may share with other agencies that care for children, Westview Boys’ Home is unique. Let’s talk about some of the differences that make us one of a kind.
Westview tailors its work to suit the unique strengths and needs of each young man. Every youth that comes to Westview takes a battery of tests that include trauma scales and life skills, for example. These instruments aren’t used for screening kids out of the program, but for identifying targets that need attention in a boy’s plan of care. Instead of being boilerplate, each plan of care is unique, formed by conversations with the young man, their family, and our caregivers. The shape of that plan changes over time as progress is made or new needs emerge. Success is measured by a yardstick designed specifically for that unique young person. Our minimum goal is reconciliation of the youth with their family; optimally, we hope that reunification of the family will happen if all parties are open to the possibility and willing to do the work.
We use best practices and emerging best practices to provide effective care for our young men. For example, Westview worked to shape itself as a trauma-sensitive community before the need to do so was commonly understood. Our unique covenant of hospitality binds each team member to behave in ways that allow youth who have experienced trauma to feel safe. Westview was also an early adopter of Trust-Based Relational Interventions® (TBRI) as developed at Texas Christian University. We have trained our administrative and care giving teams to make use of this highly effective and counter-intuitive approach to help at-risk youth who suffer from trauma, ambiguous loss, or significant social or learning challenges.
Westview provides educational and counseling opportunities for the families of our young men. We work to help families learn tools (like TBRI) so as to help the possibility and the success of reunification. Parenting in this world is complex and challenging. It’s not a weakness to want to improve as a parent; all who are blessed with children need to have the best possible tools in our toolboxes.
In as many ways as possible, we work to provide normalcy for our young charges. There are no bars on the windows or locks on the doors at Westview. Young men can go hunting, fishing, or kayaking. They can take drivers education, get their driver’s license, and earn the opportunity have a car on campus. Since they are mainstreamed in public schools, our young men often choose to play football, basketball, or baseball; some go out for track. We encourage learning and playing musical instruments. Beyond all of that, Westview has an award-winning livestock program that offers our young men the opportunity to learn how to show cattle or pigs. These opportunities are fun, but they also empower growth.
Westview operates with a unique financial model. Very few people have the resources to pay for the true costs of a residential child care facility; consequently those costs are usually borne by the state, an insurance company, or the child care agency itself. Using a sliding scale, Westview asks parents to participate to some degree in the expense of keeping their children at the Home, but no young man has ever been turned away for lack of funding. Westview works with highly motivated donors to cover the cost of care for the young men on our campus.
We really are a working ranch. With 1,500 acres in Harmon County, Westview maintains its own cattle herd, hay fields, irrigated cotton farm, and pecan orchard. Besides providing work opportunities, the ranch helps our boys feel connected to nature and to the cycles of life that make human life possible. All of this space allows our young men to have room to play, to grow, and to find peace.
We’re smart enough to know when we’re not the answer and someone else is. Sometimes when guardians call us to talk about placing a young man at Westview, we’ll discover that there may be issues that require a different level of treatment than those we offer (a substance abuse program or in-patient program). We’ll try to help find a program that’s a better fit, if there is one. If a young man comes to Westview and we discover in the process of working with him that he needs a specific therapeutic program, we’ll help find an appropriate placement. More than once we’ve empowered those young men to step back down into our program when they’ve successfully dealt with their issues.
Even with all of these differences, the board of directors and the team at Westview are still not done. We continue to seek ways to make this a better place to serve vulnerable youth in our troubled world. Thank you for your interest in those efforts!