BENTON, Ark. – When foster kids open the door to a new home at Second Chance Youth Ranch, they step into the old west.
“Everyone loves to see the ranch; they think it’s just the coolest thing and we love that because that makes it a little less scary when it’s a little more fun,” Cassie Baker said.
Cassie Baker is a foster parent, and said this place is more than just a western-themed ranch– it’s a home for children across the state.
“A lot of these kids have lived in some really scary situations, so having a normal home environment is just amazing to watch them come into,” Baker said.
Baker, from a young age had a heart for kids.
“My heart has always been with children. I always told my mom growing up I wanted to either foster or adopt,” Baker said.
She said when she and her husband found out about Second Chance Youth Ranch, they knew they had to be involved.
“We knew this is where we wanted to be,” Baker said.
They welcome children into their home, sometimes not knowing what their pasts hold, but they do know that for foster kids, there is a lot of change.
“These kids are brought to us, and everything is stripped away from them, their family, their friends, their normally environment,” Baker said.
Operation Director Rachel Hubbard said the mission of the ranch is to keep sibling groups together, and to prevent stripping those children of everything.
“Whenever you tear them away from their brothers and sisters as well, we are causing more trauma. That’s something that is really hard from these kids to recover from,” Hubbard said.
She said these children worry about the whereabouts of their siblings.
“It’s very hard to heal and make progress in your life when you’re constantly worried about who’s taking care of your little sister, or where is your little brother living now,” Hubbard said.
With the mission of keeping families together in their hearts, the ranch provides a way for those siblings to stay together.
“These homes are designed for large sibling groups, so we want brothers and sisters who have to be in foster care to not have to be separated from each other,” Hubbard said.
For people wanting to help these kids stay together, Baker says that it can be daunting.
“I mean you’re going from possibly having one or two kids, or no kids, to a house full of children and that can be terrifying,” Baker said.
However, she says don’t let that fear stop you.
“Once you’re here and you’re in that routine, and you know your kids and you get to spend time with them, you won’t remember life without them,” Baker said.
To learn more about the ranch you can visit their Facebook page or their website.