“The good old days.” It’s a common turn-of-phrase, and sometimes it holds true. Fifty, a hundred, or even two hundred years ago – the pace of life was slower. There was less or no technology and more face-to-face interactions.
But there was also less knowledge, particularly in the area of child welfare. Residential care like what is currently provided by Ranch Ehrlo was in a very different state. Going way back to 1601, Elizabethan Law introduced the idea of children being a social responsibility – meaning that if their parents were unable to care for them, it was society’s duty to ensure they still received some form of care. In the early days, they were put into alms houses and indentured to master craftsmen.
The concept of “Institutionalized Care” was seen throughout North America in the 1700s – orphanages, apprentices, reform schools, and almshouses were the basis of the system. Today, residential care looks much different but the misconception of “Institutionalized Care” lingers – mainly that it is still impersonal, large institutions run by strict disciplinarians where punitive practice takes precedence.
Certainly, there are youth detention centres that still exist today. But Ranch Ehrlo is not one of them. Our group homes are just that – homes. We strive to create as “normal” of an experience as possible for our youth when they are in one of our programs. This could be through every day routines like sitting down together for a meal with staff and other youth, attending school, or outings on the weekends. Other aspects could include youth receiving an allowance to spend on whatever they wish, or the simple act of allowing them to decorate their rooms however they see fit.
Furthermore, we do not take a punitive approach. Treatment at Ranch Ehrlo is primarily based on the forming of positive, therapeutic relationships. All of our staff work together in the best interests of each child or family that comes to us for help.
Comparing “then” to now, we can see that sometimes “the good old days” aren’t all they’ve cracked up to be.