Maryland Sheriff's Youth Ranch closing its doors in June

- FREDERICK, Md. - For nearly 40 years, the Maryland Sheriff's Youth Ranch has been home to at-risk boys from around the state, who the Department of Social Services and Department of Juvenile Services categorize as “children in need of assistance.”

The doors that welcomed hundreds of boys in need are closing June 19, largely due to lack of funding.

“A third of our kids are here because they weren't following the rules in the home, a third are here because there were no rules in the home and the last third is a combination of the two,” said Director of the Maryland Sheriff’s Youth Ranch, Mark Grover.

Grover said their 28 beds haven't been at capacity in years, with only nine boys currently living there.

The ranch has reportedly been struggling financially for the past eight years. Grover said the state decreasing their reliance on group homes, along with funding plays a role in board of directors’ decision to close the ranch this summer.

“My recreation budget for the entire year last year was $78, that includes Christmas and birthday gifts, so we have to do a lot of fundraising,” added Grover.

While the future of the staff is uncertain, Grover said he's committed to finding the right place for his kids to continue to grow.

“That's going to be the number one job coming up - figuring out how make sure the kids get to the next step in their development,” said Grover. “Whether that is at a less restrictive setting, a similar group home, and making sure the kids have input into that making sure the kids have a voice into where they go next.”

Looking back at his 15 years as director, his impact won't likely end when the ranch closes its doors. 

“One of the first kids I ever worked with used to call me on Father's Day every year, he'd never say 'Happy Fathers Day', but he'd always ask me, 'Mr. Grover, how are you doing?” added Grover, with a noticeable grin. “I'm going to go to his wedding this summer.”

Officials at the Youth Ranch said they chose to close the property June 19 so the boys could complete school without worrying about what lies ahead.


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