Set amidst the rural landscape, Forest Ridge Youth Services facilitates an environment that supports a young woman's journey to learn more about who she is, the reasons for some of the decisions she has made, and how she can increase the respect she demonstrates for herself and others. In order to make this journey, her environment must be emotionally and physically safe and removed from the distraction and demands of social settings that may have contributed to her participation in unhealthy decisions and relationships.
At Forest Ridge, young women are offered immediate feedback from both staff and peers, allowing them to practice the interpersonal relationship skills of giving and receiving help. This supportive setting encourages the resolution of past trauma, seeks solutions for current challenges, and celebrates each success. The development of positive thinking patterns and a healthy value system provides each young women with the internal guidance she is able to use when she leaves Forest Ridge.
Founded in 1983, Female-Responsive since 1996
Forest Ridge was established in 1983 as a residential foster care facility for at risk youth.
The rural northwest Iowa program has grown from 12 residential beds to 140 residential treatment and emergency shelter beds.
Recognizing that quality services are designed to meet the specific needs of the youth they serve and that the needs of young women and young men differ, in 1996 Forest Ridge chose to specialize in Gender Responsive Services for adolescent girls in the juvenile justice system.
Young women are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system and have disproportionately higher needs in relation to their lower risk of threat to the public. Quality services that meet the specific needs of young women require the understanding that girls not only come to the attention of the juvenile justice or human services system with a higher level of needs, but that they also process information, develop self-esteem, and respond to service techniques differently than boys. At Forest Ridge, every aspect of programming pays attention to what they have learned about the growth and development of healthy young women.
The Trauma-Informed Care approach to services has found a welcome home at Forest Ridge, as the recommendations for female-responsive services have long included the understanding that young women entering the system have often been the victims of traumatic events, causing them both emotional and physical wounds. The specialized work of helping young women begin to heal those wounds and become healthier members of society has included a trauma-informed component at Forest Ridge for nearly two decades.
Forest Ridge Youth Services is a program in the Sequel Youth and Family Services organization.