The Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch by Ray LaBonte and Family is a long-term trauma-informed treatment centre focused solely to help children who have been sexually abused, as well as their families. The Be Brave Ranch program offers these children a place to heal and increase their chances of growing into healthy adults. Clinical supports are offered to children and their families for one full year.
What kind of program is offered at the Be Brave Ranch?
Our program is for girls and boys aged 8-12, and girls age 13-16 who have been sexually abused. It is a child-centered, family friendly program that uses evidence-based interventions. The treatment program is one-year long. During that time, children stay at the Ranch four separate times for a total of 10 weeks. Their first stay at the Ranch is 28 days and their three subsequent stays are 14 days each. The remainder of our treatment is provided on an outpatient basis. While children are in our care at the Ranch, they are in contact with their parents on a daily basis. Parents have the option of visiting in the evenings and on weekends. In addition, children have the option to maintain weekend sport/extra-curricular events. This is arranged collaboratively between parents/guardians and clinical team to best meet the clinical needs of each child.
Children receive comprehensive individual, group and/or family therapeutic interventions while in the program, combined with physical and recreational activities, within a camp-like environment. This allows children to rediscover their capabilities, and supports them in facing their challenges. Within the enriched and supportive environment, children are able to enjoy their childhood, and start to move past the terrible things that happened to them.
How long is the program?
The Be Brave Ranch Program is evidence-based programming and leading practices. Treatment is divided into multiple stages implemented over a 12-month period.
The program is a year-long program with an initial stay at the Ranch of 28 days, plus three subsequent stays of 14 days each. In between stays, children (and caregivers) work with their clinical team, including a team of therapists on an outpatient basis via individual check-in phone calls, individual email communication, and group teleconferences.
What is the scientific basis for the program?
Our unique program is built upon extensive published medical and psychological research. The core of the Be Brave Ranch program uses evidence-based research, including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is the most well recognized form of treatment for children who have been sexually abused. The medical literature shows that, unfortunately, many children who have been sexually abused receive no treatment. Even for those who are able to access treatment, this will often be for a total of 15–25 hours of actual therapy. However, in the one-year Be Brave Ranch program, children and their families will be offered more than 200 hours of multi-modal therapy. This is in addition to the time spent at the Be Brave Ranch having fun with their peers (other children who have experienced what they have).
Preliminary details of our program have already been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Study outcomes will also be published at the end of our clinical data collection project. We believe the quality of the program will be recognized as the “gold-standard” treatment for children who have been sexually abused. Our hope is that our treatment model can then be used to help abused children across Canada as well as in other countries.
How many children will be on site at one time?
Each cohort will consist of a maximum of 6 children. They will all reside in the same cabin and each child will have their own individual room. At full capacity, there will be a maximum of 18 children at the Ranch in two or more separate cohorts, each with their own clinical team. Awake, adult supervision is maintained 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the children’s stay with us. There is a separate family house where parents/caregivers can stay overnight when they come to the Ranch to visit their child.
Is there any family involvement in the program?
Child sexual abuse affects the entire family. Thus, families are a key element of this program. The Be Brave Ranch offers a Family Support Program that will help the non-offending parents/guardians to develop understanding, skills and strategies to support the child in the healing process.
Family counselling is offered to help parents/guardians deal with issues that emerge as a result of their child’s sexual abuse. While at the Ranch, parents are able to access face-to-face individual and family counselling, as well as art therapy and yoga.
Family support continues throughout the year through weekly phone counselling with Be Brave Ranch parents. Weekly progress reports regarding their child’s treatment are provided by the therapists. The Family Program helps parents/guardians understand and manage the issues created by the trauma of their child’s sexual abuse through group sessions and individual support. Further, the clinical team offers support to parents in other formats as well, such as attending meetings and case conferences at schools to help bridge transition times and offer education and support for both children and parents.
What about school?
Children who are dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse need time to process and heal, thus time at the Be Brave Ranch is spent helping the children overcome the trauma and deal with every day survival. Such improvements in mental state will increase their abilities to perform better at school. Staff are very happy to collaborate with parents and educators as required to ensure that any child wishing to keep up with assignments will continue to do school work while in the program. Time is set aside each day for such educational purposes.
What happens if a child gets sick or needs to see a doctor?
The child’s health is a very important part of our overall wellness objectives. Any illness or health issues will be provided immediate medical attention. The Be Brave Ranch has access to the public health system if medical care is required, and all parents/guardians will be asked to sign a consent form allowing the Be Brave Ranch staff to assist the child medically in the most appropriate manner, should the need arise. Children with specific medical needs will be attended to by appropriately trained staff in close discussion with their caregivers. All childcare workers at the Ranch are trained in medication administration as well as CPR and first aid.
What happens if parents/guardians decide their child needs to leave the program?
The Be Brave Ranch program is a completely voluntary treatment program. If at any time either the child or their family wishes to leave the program, they may do so simply by filling out the program withdrawal form.
Our interview/screening process is such that eligibility criteria are in place to ensure that the program is suitable for each individual child and family. Desire to be engaged in programming must be expressed before treatment begins. Throughout the entire treatment program, children are actively supported in working through any difficulties or trauma they may be experiencing.
What are the costs of treatment at the Be Brave Ranch?
Operating such a comprehensive treatment program for a one-year period is expensive. In total, children complete more than 200 hours of multi-modal therapy during their one-year period. Additionally, we are providing education and supports for families which has additional costs. Due to the kindness of our donors, we have raised sufficient funds to provide treatment for children to participate in the Be Brave Ranch program at no cost which reduces barriers for children and families to access services. As a small charitable organization, it is becoming more challenging to continue to raise millions of dollars each year to cover the full cost of treatment for each child. We ask that if families or caregivers have access to outside resources to offset therapy costs to please let us know prior to intake. Little Warriors can bill costs for treatment based on current fee structures.
The cost per child for the one-year treatment program is approximately $25,000. Any additional outside financial support will allow Little Warriors to accept more children into our treatment program and reduce growing waitlists. This includes all attendance at the Be Brave Ranch (a total of up to 10 weeks of intensive therapy as well as transitional supports over a one-year period), and all of the outpatient continuing care sessions, as well as all family support and interactions. It does not, unfortunately, include covering the costs for travel to and from the Be Brave Ranch for the child or their parents. Nonetheless, the Be Brave Ranch is committed to trying to help as many children as possible, and if the cost of travel is a limiting factor in the child attending the treatment program, please contact the Be Brave Ranch directly.
Where can children who want to attend the Be Brave Ranch come from?
Tragically, childhood sexual abuse occurs in all regions and in all groups of societies. For this reason our aim is to provide services to children across North America. At present, we serve children from across Canada only.
What is the referral process to the Be Brave Ranch?
Referrals are accepted from parents, guardians, caregivers and kinship or extended family members across Canada. Referrals are also accepted from professionals such as physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, educators and agencies supporting children, youth and families (including mental health and/or addiction service providers, social and family service providers, other sexual assault programs, or other community based services.
The Be Brave Ranch has a comprehensive eligibility and intake process, and each child must meet these criteria in order to be admitted into the program.
Please visit our website to determine the suitability for each child and to find out how to apply for entry into the Be Brave Ranch program.
What are your staff qualifications?
Clinical staff members have extensive experience working with complex mental health issues and deescalating challenging behaviours. The safety of the children while they are at the Be Brave Ranch is the staff’s number one priority.
How are children kept safe while at the Be Brave Ranch?
Awake, adult supervision is maintained 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a high staff to child ratio.
Every adult working or staying at the Be Brave Ranch must pass standard criminal record and vulnerable sector checks. In addition, a highly comprehensive security system is in place, both in terms of technology and a full-time security team dedicated to this program.
Clinical staff members are experienced to effectively cope with challenging behaviours, and to intervene before further problems arise. The safety of the children while they are at the Be Brave Ranch is the staff’s number one priority.
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