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12/5/2013 12:33:00 AM
Boys Ranch raising funds for foster care community
OLBR executive director Bryan Larison stands in a field on the organizationís campus where the foster care community will be built. Journal photo by David Sasser
OLBR executive director Bryan Larison stands in a field on the organizationís campus where the foster care community will be built.

Journal photo by David Sasser
By Van Mitchell, Journal Staff Writer

The Oklahoma Lions Boys Ranch is looking to create a new foster care community home site at its Perkins campus.

And the window of opportunity to raise the funds to meet a matching pledge to pay for half the cost of building the two homes is running out.

Bryan Larison, OLBR executive director said thus far the OLBR has raised $115,000 of a $250,000 matching pledge from Paul Milburn of Shawnee.

"We are $10,000 from reaching that halfway point," Larison said. "If we can reach that halfway point by the end of this year then we will be able to start construction on the first house. We will still have $125,000 to be raised after that."

For the initial launch, the estimated budget to build both homes and to cover the first year of operations is $500,000 with $225,000 to build each home and $25,000 to operate each house.

Larison said he visited with Milburn last week to see if he would release the first $125,000 if the OLBR raised that amount by the end of 2013.

Milburn agreed to those terms and extended the time the OLBR had to raise the remaining funds until June 2014.

Since its inception in 1952, the Oklahoma Boys Lions Ranch (OLBR) has provided help for more than 1,500 Oklahoma boys between the ages of 12 and 18.

Larison said the idea of a foster care community came out of an OLBR board retreat in 2010 where the future direction of the ranch was discussed.

"All of the kids we get here at the Boys Ranch have been in a previous foster home and they weren't successful in that foster home," he said. "Most of our kids have been in 15 to 20 failed foster homes before they get to us. We believe we can do foster care better if we allow the foster parents to live here on campus. And we can provide those foster parents the same kind of support we provide our house parents. Instead of being their 15th or 20th placement we want to be their first placement."

According to statistics from the OK Foster Wishes website which in part tracks the number of children in Oklahoma foster care says as of Jan.1, 2013 there were 9,844 children in the Oklahoma Department of Human Services foster care system.

In comparison in January 2012 there were 8,308 children in DHS foster care and in January 2011 there 8,046 in foster care.

At the end of 2012 there were over 5,500 youth entering "out-of-home care" or aging out of the DHS foster care system.

Based on an established model that has proven successful in similar programs in Oklahoma as well as other states, Larison said the Foster Care Community will initially consist of two residential homes, each approximately 2,200 square feet. The homes will be made available to Oklahoma-certifi ed foster parents and will provide enough space for up to six children including up to two children of the foster parents.

The houses will be built on land already owned by the OLBR. The homes will be built next to each other with room for more homes in the future, near the administrative office and one of the group homes.

Larison said this will be the first time that the OLBR will be able to take females and the new homes will also allow the ranch to take in siblings as well.

"We have children out there in DHS custody bouncing from foster home to foster home and we believe the only way to get those kids back into a traditional foster home is to get them to come to the Boys Ranch or a group home like ours," Larison said. "We are going to have both here."

For more information about donating to the OLBR Foster Care Community program call (405) 547-2462 or visit the OLBR website www.olbr.org or on Facebook.com/olbr. Donations can also be made by mailing checks to OLBR at P.O. Box 400 Perkins 74059.

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