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FUMCH to build youth ranch in Madison

FUMCH to build youth ranch in Madison

On January 17, 2012, The Florida United Methodist Children’s Home held a special Leadership Breakfast on the 22nd Floor of the Capitol Building in Tallahassee to unveil the conceptual design for a new Youth Ranch in Madison, Florida to Florida State Senators and Representatives, Madison County government leaders, Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins, religious leaders, FUMCH Board of Trustees, and interested citizens.

Aerial view of Madision Youth Ranch site.

In November 2010, a group of members from First United Methodist Church in Madison joined together inviting leadership from the Children’s Home to discuss the possibility of expanding the Children’s Home by developing a second campus in Madison. It was determined that a Youth Ranch would be the best option for the first expansion ever of The Florida United Methodist Children’s Home in its 104 years of operation. It is intended for it to be a replication of the Enterprise campus in every respect that makes sense for its rural setting. As a ranch, there will be opportunities to use different kinds of therapy (i.e., Equine Assisted Psychotherapy).

“300 beautiful acres of land in Madison has already been donated to the project, as well as full funding for one children’s home,” said Mike Galloway, President and CEO of The Florida United Methodist Children’s Home. “Our estimated completion date and our groundbreaking will be determined by our fundraising efforts, but we hope to have the first phase of our campus completed in 2014.”

The first phase will include two homes for children, along with an administration building, chapel, horse stable, and maintenance building, in addition to a home for the campus director. The amount of dollars raised will dictate how quickly they can move to later phases of the project, which include more residential homes for children, a learning center, daycare, counseling offices, ball fields, houseparent retreat, dining hall, gym, vocational tech center, commissary, volunteer housing and more.

FUMCH hopes to eventually serve 100 children ages 8-17 in the residential program and provide foster care services to Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor counties. Phase 1 construction will serve up to 24 children in residential housing.

Each residential home will house up to 12 children and have two sets of house parents who trade off every other week. No more than two children will share a room. The children will eat in their homes “family” style, share in chores, and will be responsible for their own rooms. Staff will attempt to create a family-like atmosphere while providing therapeutic opportunities to resolve any issues the children may bring with them.

Children will be welcomed from all across the state, but primarily from the North Florida region. The ranch will also receive children from church, community and state referrals.

"We are so happy to partner with Florida United Methodist Children's Home in this endeavor. Our faith-based organizations across the state are an integral part of our work to keep children safe," said Secretary David Wilkins of the Department of Children and Families. "The needs of the families and children across Florida are too great for any one agency. We must continue to work together to meet the critical needs of Florida's children."

Currently, over 250 children are served by FUMCH at any given time. The residential care on the Enterprise campus currently provides a variety of holistic services to a diverse group of over 100 children and young adults every day and night. They currently have over 65 foster family homes that serve approximately 125 children at one time. During the eight years of the program’s existence, FUMCH has served a total of over 1115 foster care children, including 157 adoptions.

Each year, on average, about 65%-70% of FUMCH’s total funding comes from private sources. Strong church support enables the program of the Home to maintain its ministry as a Christian outreach of its commitment to children.