In 1999, 160 acres north of Edmond and west of Guthrie was purchased and donated to Peppers Ranch with the goal of developing a long-term residential care facility providing quality, planned care for abused and neglected boys. The first home opened in April 2002, the second in March 2005, the McClendon Equestrian Center was completed in November 2005, and the Watts Ag Center was completed in May 2006.
In January of 2008, Peppers Ranch began an extensive study on how we could help more children while maximizing the investment of our donor base. After thoroughly researching what other states were doing, we found three foster care communities, one each in Illinois, Washington and Texas. We spoke with all three on numerous occasions, visited the Texas site, learned how they operated, and analyzed the advantages compared to our existing group home model. Following this thorough evaluation, Peppers Ranch became the first foster care community in Oklahoma in early 2009.
The following benefits have been realized by converting to a foster care community:
- Foster care parents are in one centralized location enabling encouragement and support for one another.
- We are able to offer training and support to the foster parents, increasing satisfaction and retention of foster parents.
- A sense of community, wherein a child can be sent to another home for a cooling off period to avoid disruption of the placement.
- Counseling and educational support provided by professional therapists, who meet weekly with foster parents on child issues.
- Carpooling between house parents for jobs, sports, and extra-curricular activities and overall combining of resources of both the Ranch AND of the parents.
- DHS has identified a lack of resources to keep siblings together. With Pepper’s Ranch, we make every effort to keep siblings together.
- Foster parents at Peppers Ranch provide each other respite.
- Increased referrals and utilization of our services since DHS is reluctant to place children in group care.
- Operating cost are approximately 60% less than operating as a group home model enabling Peppers Ranch to help more children.
- Foster parents who are already fostering 1 or 2 children on their own are eager to foster additional children if they only had additional room and support… and are much better parents than paid staff as group-home parents.
In 2010, we completed construction of two additional homes and a 9,000 sq. ft. Multi-Purpose Learning Center… completely debt free! Additionally, 80 acres contiguous to the existing property was donated to the ranch, growing the ranch to 240 acres. In both 2011 and 2012 three new homes were completed and opened making room for 60 children. In 2015 we grew again, adding 3 new homes with room for over 100 children.
In December 2018 Peppers Ranch Foster Care Community grew by leaps and bounds as an anonymous couple and long-time supporters of the organization funded the purchase of a 415 acre ranch just off HWY 74 creating Peppers Ranch II. Amenities on the current property include a horse barn with 24 stalls & indoor exercise track, a 24,000 square foot indoor-lighted riding arena and equipment/maintenance shop as well as 2 homes. This land has the potential for 40 more foster homes, aging out youth program, event center in addition to a multi-purpose community center, playgrounds, and more.
Peppers Ranch Foster Care Community will continue its mission to provide a community of foster care families for children and sibling groups from birth to beyond setting the foundation for individualized success for every child.
With a total of 240 acres at Peppers Ranch I and 415 acres at Peppers Ranch II and the community’s continued support, our potential for growth is unlimited. Future development plans include additional foster homes, learning center expansion, aging out community of tiny homes, expanded support services and programs, extended playground and campsites. Services will continue to be expanded to adequately meet the needs of the additional children and foster parents that will call the ranch “home.”
With a self-imposed mandate of debt-free operations, Peppers Ranch will continue to demonstrate value and effective stewardship in an effort to retain public trust. An active and committed Board of Directors will continue to work closely with our staff, volunteers and foster parents to build relationships and gain support. We have systematically identified individuals, corporations, and foundations that possess the capacity to give, the passion for our mission, and the desire to help make a difference in the lives of others by supporting the growth at Peppers Ranch.