Staff turnover also remains a challenge. Rees says The Buckeye Ranch tries to protect salaries and benefits; it hasn’t had to implement a pay cut or freeze. It offers more vacation time than most jobs, and it has some peer support groups.
“But to be honest with you, we’re still not doing a great job with that because we’re limited so much financially,” he says. “The turnover in our business is roughly 33 percent across the country, and last year, we finished the year at 32 percent.”
The average person has been on staff five and a half years, Rees says. It’s not only difficult to find social work majors, but once The Buckeye Ranch has them, they’re tough to keep because the work is so difficult.
To help with recruitment, when agencies close, the first thing The Buckeye Ranch does is find out if those employees want to come to work for it. But that means a number of employees are driving long distances across Ohio, and often people’s offices are their laptops.
To decrease turnover, the nonprofit is looking into how it can focus the trauma-informed care model it uses for its children to better support how trauma impacts its employees.
The Buckeye Ranch is also involved in some new programs that support teenagers and young adults, ages 17 to 21, who are transitioning into adulthood, typically from foster care. Rees says previously when children turned 18, they were on their own and often ended up homeless or facing other problems.
“Many of those kids are not prepared. I mean I wouldn’t have been prepared to (be on my own) when I was 18 and I grew up in a very good family with mom and dad there,” he says.
In addition, The Buckeye Ranch has dabbled with the idea of using telemedicine to more easily help children in remote areas. Rees says it hasn’t come to fruition yet, but it’s worth continuing to work on with so many people traveling across the state to get care for their child.
Whatever the future holds, The Buckeye Ranch will keep offering the best service it can to Ohio children and families.
“The one thing I like to try to impress upon folks is we’re not like your grandfather’s Buckeye Boys Ranch anymore,” he says. “We are 550 professionals, working with 5,000 kids and their families every year, and we’re using the latest technologies and the latest treatment services.”