The Step Ahead Program is a pre-transitional living program developed to help young men to gain the skills necessary to become prepared for independence. It focuses on meeting the needs of adolescent boys who are not ready for traditional independent living program, but are in need of developing the ability to implement the skills that they have learned in treatment into every day interactions with individuals and in the community. This program has a specialized community focus which provides supervision while increasing community contact in a safe and supportive manner. Personal accountability, responsibility and decision making are key aspects of the program.

Youth in this program are presented with more decisions and choices than in traditional residential care, but there is an increased element of guidance and supervision that is not available in traditional transitional living setting. Role modeling and social teaching occur through supervision in a community setting.

During the course of their treatment, they learn the skills necessary to manage and organize their time, basic nutrition and cooking skills, how to maintain a home, budgeting and money management, job skills and experience through volunteer activities, as well as valuable problem solving and relationship skills. Gaining the skills necessary to be successful socially, behaviorally, and academically in a public school setting are often a focus of treatment. Learning to increase their personal responsibility for themselves and their lives is a primary focus of helping them to develop into the young men that they want to be.

Youth will receive individual therapy as a part of their treatment. There are therapeutic groups during the week that focus on skill development and goals that are guided by their treatment plan. The individual therapy and therapeutic groups are conducted by an MSW level licensed professional. Groups and individual interventions also occur with the youth care staff focused on their individual treatment goals.


Quotes from Past Step Ahead Youth:

Learning how to cook really helped my self-esteem. I never thought that I would be able to do that. ( J.)

I loved to volunteer. It feels good to help others. (D.)


77% of the youth that have participated in the Step Ahead program have shown an improvement in their overall ability to function according to the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale. 91% of the youth had a gain in some major area of their functioning even if their overall score did not increase according to this measure. The areas of functioning measured by the CAFAS include school/work performance, home role performance, community role performance, behavior towards others, moods/emotions, self-harmful behavior, substance use, and thinking.


  • Ozarks Food Harvest 324 hours and counting
  • Habitat for Humanity projects
  • Missouri Hotel assisting with meals
  • Cleaning local Ozark hiking and biking trails
  • Fund Raisers that benefit the Ranch