Wears Valley Ranch exists to provide Christian homes and Christian education for children from difficult situations. Our students are typically described as “deserving young people with a problem in the home, not of their own making.” The problems vary widely. The situation may involve a single parent who genuinely wants to care for his or her own child, but can’t because of demanding work schedules. It may involve a grandparent’s concern for a child whose parent is in trouble with drugs (most often alcohol). It may involve a case of neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse.
Although we accept children from across the United States, the need in east Tennessee is staggering. Every year thousands of children enter the foster care system in our region. In Knox County alone, there are dozens of medically confirmed cases of sexual abuse annually. These cases are only the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds more go unreported. The state will not remove a child from the home except in the most dire circumstances. By that time, the child has endured unspeakable trauma. Wears Valley Ranch provides an early intervention alternative, with voluntary placement and help for the child and other family members.
Nestled against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Wears Valley Ranch (which adjoins the park) provides an ideal environment for healthy living. Four spacious homes housing up to eight students each are situated among the trees overlooking our rolling pasture where horses graze and play.
Child abuse is one of the greatest evils in our society. It is more than a medical problem. It is more than a societal problem. It is a sin against God. Wears Valley Ranch is doing more than preaching against the problem. They are taking children who have suffered horribly and showing them a new way to live. By providing a uniquely therapeutic environment with individualized education and individual, group and family counseling, they offer a powerful intervention. They are breaking the cycle of abuse by teaching children how to live in a loving family relationship. I commend them for their dedication and celebrate with them the evidence of lives changed by Jesus’ love.
At Wears Valley Ranch, we believe that each child is special and is worth our love and support. That is why we provide a home environment rather than dormitories. Our girls and boys live in non-institutional homes with houseparents who are investing their lives in the lives of the children The atmosphere within each home is one of love and encouragement where each child can know the security of boundaries and the acceptance of unconditional love.
Children are accepted regardless of their race or religious background. Students do attend church with their houseparents in the community. While no child should be pressured to embrace a particular creed, we are eager for each child to know the truth that they are loved by God.
Student Eligibility Requirements:
- Grade level K-12 at the time of admission
- I.Q. of 80 or above
- Cannot be an adjudicated delinquent
- Must have a willingness to work on personal problems
- No alcohol or drug dependence
- Severely emotionally disturbed children cannot be served
- Circumstances in the student’s home must indicate that the student will benefit from a change in environment
Obviously, we are not the best place for every child who cannot live at home. The children we admit understand that we are not a reform school and we are not equipped to handle intensive psychological therapy. We admit students who understand that their cooperation is essential in the kind of help we have to offer. They are here as participants in a community, not as prisoners and not as patients. We seek to refer children who need reform or more intensive therapy to other ministries whose mission is focused in the area of that child’s particular needs.
If you know of a child that would benefit from the ministry at Wears Valley Ranch, please tell us more by filling out our short referral form found here. You can also download the full student application here.