Not many people can predict the future - even if you are the CEO. This week’s blog, guest written by Ranch Ehrlo CEO herself, Andrea Brittin, looks at what she envisions for the agency over the next five years.

Andrea BrittinLooking into the future, I don’t see our organization changing a lot in terms of the types of services that we offer. There will always be a need for residential treatment for some youth and the Ranch offers a service that is valued across Canada. There will also always be a need for the excellent programs we provide to individuals who have developmental delays.  It is important to remember, though, that these individuals we are serving come from families and communities who can be key to their healing process. As much as possible, we want to be an agency that supports families to be involved and engaged. We also want to support families to safely stay together when that is possible. So an expansion of our Family Treatment Program and other family-based programming is definitely in the future.

While there are many things underway in the agency, I’m thinking about three areas where I would like to see a real focus over the next five years.

Becoming a CARE-ing organization
First off, we will continue implementing CARE (Children And the Residential Experiences: Creating Conditions for Change) in the agency.  CARE is a fundamental principle-based approach that teaches a philosophy meant to guide everything we do.  My vision in the short term is that all staff will be fully trained in CARE including any new staff coming to our agency.  More importantly, I envision CARE becoming the language we speak and the CARE principles becoming part of the very fabric of our agency.  Most exciting of all, I see us realizing all the benefits of CARE - engaged and satisfied employees, programs that are more settled, calmer environments with fewer physical interventions and generally better outcomes for the people who come to us for help!

Connected to the principles of CARE, two other priorities come to mind – culture and family.

Given that approximately 80 per cent of the children, adults, and families who come to us for help are Indigenous, I would like to see us partnering more with First Nations and Indigenous groups in the community for the cultural aspects of our programming. Traditions, ceremonies, and other cultural experiences can be very important in the healing process, so I want to ensure that we are making these types of experiences possible for all of the people in our care. While there are many cultural activities going on within the agency, I would like to see us do more in this area. There are many rich Indigenous resources within the community and we need to reach out more to partner, to listen, and to learn from others. I also believe we would all benefit from having much more Indigenous staff working in the agency.

We all know the research says that kids do best when they are able to keep connected with their families - no matter what the circumstances of their families may be. So, we want to make sure our agency is doing everything we can to ensure families feel welcome, are included, are engaged and informed about what is happening with their child(ren). Most of the young people who are with us will eventually go back to their families and their communities. Our role is to make sure that all youth in our care are equipped to thrive when they do so.

When we make focused progress in these three areas over the next five years, our agency will be better and stronger than ever!