Assuming 2 out of 10 young men are redirected from criminal activity, become responsible parents, and break the family chains of welfare dependence.
Annual incarceration cost of $9, 073 and $35/hour attorney fees
- Median annual income of $37,860 (Alabama) and inflation at 3.99% (as of January 2006)
15% tax bracket
The following monthly government handouts over an average lifespan of 80 years:
$100 in food stamps
$400 for public housing
$400 for government sponsored medical insurance, average lifespan of 80 years
We believe it is important to do a good job at what we do. Doing something right does not always mean we have to be bigger or better or more recognized. We take pride in providing a quality home where boys can grow and succeed.
Everything we do must be directed at reaching our stated mission. We will not allow our program to be money driven by modifying our mission just because there is money in another direction. We will not change our program due to political or public relation needs.
In every decision we will first ask: "Will this help us provide more opportunity for the children we seek to help?" We will not allow political or financial issues to drive our decision making process.
Integrity will infiltrate every aspect of our ministry including how we treat our children, our staff, our supporters, and anyone touched by Eagle Rock.
We will be good stewards of everything we're given whether it is in abundance or frugality. We will be good stewards of our money, our time, and our facilities.
We will go the extra mile with our children even when they may not deserve it. We will seek to issue mercy in the same measure as Christ gives mercy to us. The only limits to our mercy toward children will be when mercy is detrimental to the development of good character. This means we will never take the "easy way out" when dealing with troubled boys.
FRONT LINE FIRST:
The people who have the most day to day influence on our boys are the people who work directly with them day in and day out. We will place high value and high priority on these individuals. We see the importance of having quality people in these positions. We will not treat these individuals as lesser employees. We will not be "top heavy" in our staffing or our allocation of salaries.
Through the years, Eagle Rock has worked out an approach to treatment that specifically addresses the needs and behaviors of the children for whom it is our mission to serve. The approach in many regards is common sense. The components are as follows:
I. Relationship Building
At the very core of everything we do at Eagle Rock is the relationship between the children and their caregivers (houseparent). We believe there is no substitute for a healthy, personal, genuine, sincere, and caring relationship between an adult and a child. Understanding this concept is fundamental in understanding why we do many of the things we do.
New and inexperienced houseparent often ask why Eagle Rock does not use a "Level System" or a "Point System".
These are typically used in most group homes as a means of behavior management. The answer to this question lies in the fact that level and point systems tend to sterilize the relationships children develop with their caretakers. Caretakers become like robots following a specific and prescribed formula. Children feel like products rather than human beings. Scott Hilton, who has written numerous systems over the years, has often said he could train a monkey to be a houseparent if all they had to do was administer a system. It would certainly be much easier and less stressful.
Eagle Rock Boy's Ranch has refused to be a warehouse for children. It is no secret that non-profit and for-profit companies in recent years have discovered that the business of taking care of children is big businesses. Consequently, we have far too many places where children are brought in, processed, and sent out. They are little more than a product. Little attention is given to the fact that they are real, living, human beings.
Real change and character development come from personal, genuine interaction with others. This is truly what children need and there is no substitute. However, this is the most difficult task any Eagle Rock employee takes on. Relationship building requires energy and commitment. It is time consuming. There is no set formula to follow. It is not easily taught. It can be stressful. A monkey can't do it!
Everything we do at Eagle Rock is based on this concept. Much of the training our staff receives is related to relationship building.
II. Respect For God's Creation
The second fundamental in our approach to treatment is an understanding that children are God's creation. If we can remember this point in everything we do it will revolutionize our thinking in terms of treatment. It causes us to do two things:
- We separate the deed from the doer. We remember that children are still God's creation even when they do not act properly. We must always let them know we love them even if we hate their behavior. We have to learn to separate the behavior from the fact that the child is still a human being created by God and loved by him.
- We accept children unconditionally. Through the years, Eagle Rock has earned a reputation for "sticking with" even the most difficult children. We do not have a "three strikes and you are out" policy. We tolerate more than most places would even think about. Our approach has always been to forgive our children as much as God forgives us. This has not been easy and it has frustrated many houseparent but we will continue to do it.
- Many of the children at Eagle Rock have been "kicked out" of numerous other group homes and foster homes. From this experience they learn two things that they carry into adult life:
- "If I don't like my situation all I need to do is act out and it will change."
- "I am only accepted if I behave well. Nobody loves me just because I am who I am."
- As adults we must ask ourselves, "Where would I be if God's love depended on my behavior and what would I be if God did not separate the deed from the doer?"
III. Natural and Logical Consequences
Children learn best from natural and logical consequences. At Eagle Rock we seize any opportunity to permit this teaching. It is natural and logical to do so.
Principles of natural and logical consequences:
- Natural and logical consequences require children to be responsible for their own behavior.
- Natural consequences are those that permit children to learn from the natural order of the physical world. For example, not eating is followed by hunger.
- Logical consequences are those that permit children to learn from the reality of the social order. For example, children who do not get up on time may be late for school and have to make up work.
- For consequences to be effective, the children involved must see them as logical.
- The purpose of using natural and logical consequences is to motivate children to make responsible decisions, not to force their submission. Consequences are effective only if you avoid having hidden motives of winning or controlling.
- Be patient, it will take time for natural and logical consequences to be effective.
Examples of Natural Consequences:
- A child is told to wear shoes and he refuses. He cuts his foot on a piece of glass.
- A child is told to brush his teeth regularly. He refuses and gets cavities, a trip to the dentist, and a painful shot in the gum.
- A child is told not to climb on the roof. He sneaks and does it anyway but breaks an ankle by jumping off.
- A child is instructed to stay away from the horse. He refuses. The horse steps on him.
- A child is told to wear a jacket on a cold day. He refuses. He gets a cold.
Examples of Logical Consequences:
- A child does not do his morning chore. He is not allowed to enter the house after school. (He did not take care of it, so he cannot use it.)
- A child is caught smoking cigarettes. He has to pay $10.00 to the American Lung Association so they can research ways to treat him later.
- A child abuses his clothes. He does not get new clothes.
- A child yells at his houseparent. He is not allowed unsupervised visits with his mother because he might yell at her.
- A child is allowed to go on a walk for one hour. He is gone for more than one hour. He cannot go on any more walks.
A child is generally trusted and a houseparent never doubt's his word. He then tells a lie. His houseparent acts suspicious about anything else he says.
- A child shoplifts at Wal-Mart. On all future trips to Wal-Mart he has to hold his House parent's hand.
- The child who refused to wear a jacket calls his houseparent requesting a jacket. The houseparent takes it to him and the boy pays for the gas from his allowance.
IV. We Cannot Control The Child But We Can Control His Environment
This helps us avoid power struggles that we almost always lose. This component is implemented through the "work unit" system.
V. Teaching Responsibility and Accountability
It requires real effort to develop these characteristics in our children. It would be much easier to allow them to do as they please as long as they don't bother us. It is usually easier to do for them than to teach them. It is easier to "look the other way" than it is to address a problem. However, we must make the effort to teach our children to be responsible. This is done through a chore system and by giving them other personal responsibilities. Teaching accountability requires the issuance of consequences for behaviors (implemented in the work-unit system). While we choose our battles with some children we must also remember that it is our responsibility to teach them that in the real world there will be negative consequences for bad choices. Teaching good work ethic is also a goal at Eagle Rock. Most of our children come from environment's in which they have been taught to depend on a government check. We must teach that this is wrong and that "by the sweat of our brow we are fed".
Many of our children have not been taught to take care of anything. Furthermore, they do not care. Eagle Rock has a detailed policy and procedure dealing with physical items. We must also teach stewardship of time and talent. This is critical in breaking the chains of poverty, abuse, and crime. The Ranch's stewardship policy implements this component.
VII. Teaching About Life
A large part of the role of Direct Care and Therapeutic Staff will be that of teacher. We have to teach children how to behave, how good behavior benefits them, and how to correct bad behaviors. Much of the staff-training curriculum teaches our staff how to teach these things.
VIII. The Three R's
Reading, Writing, Arithmetic: At Eagle Rock, we believe being able to read, write, and doing basic math, impacts a child's life beyond simply finishing school. It is one of the key ingredients to help a child outgrow the social limitations he sees himself as having. We must remember that some of our children come from undereducated families (there have been times in Eagle Rock's history that none of the children at the ranch had a parent who had finished high school). Children tend to see themselves as becoming like their birth parents. At Eagle Rock we continually give children higher expectations. We talk with them about college even if they have never had a family member finish high school. We must remember that most of our children have not experienced stability and most are far behind their age appropriate level of academic skill and knowledge. Therefore, we focus a lot on the basic 3 R's. These skills are fundamental to all other learning.
IX. Professional Counseling
As a supplement to what the boys learn through daily living at the ranch and relationships with houseparent, all children at Eagle Rock receive professional counseling. In many facilities counseling is considered the primary treatment approach. At Eagle Rock it is a supplement to the real work being done every day by the houseparent. The Eagle Rock counselor works from three primary counseling theories. They are as follows:
- Reality Therapy: Sometimes known as "Choice Theory", the approach does not attempt to analyze a person's past or determine why they act a certain way. Rather, it deals with the present and what can be done. The approach also believes people must be held accountable for their choices. No excuses are allowed in reality therapy. At the heart of the approach is a genuine, non-sterile, relationship between counselor and client.
- Rational Emotive Therapy:This approach believes that choices are based on emotions, and emotions are based on thought processes that are preceded by events. The client is taught to identify the emotion that caused the reaction and the event that caused the emotion. In identifying these aspects the client can be taught to think differently and therefore react more appropriately.
- Behavioral Therapy:This approach has less to do with thinking and more to do with conditioning. The counselor reinforces good behavior with positive consequence and bad behavior with negative consequence. This approach is often used with less intelligent children.
- The counselor, as with other staff, is also a relationship builder. Helping children deal with difficulties and concerns in their life is always a part of the counseling relationship.
X. Spiritual Development
- An outside Certified Public Accountant
- The Eagle Rock Board of Directors
- The Department of Human Resources Licensing Auditor
- The Internal Revenue Service's Non-Profit Sector
- The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ecfa.org) and Guidestar (guidestar.org)
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