What Is El Ranchito de los Niños?
El Ranchito was built to create a permanent, stable home for siblings where they can grow into adulthood together. It is a safe, loving home where children thrive in a supportive, family farm setting. The children learn how to care for animals: dogs, cats, horses, a donkey, goats and chickens. Each child at El Ranchito receives individualized attention with their educational needs, social and personal development (such as 4-H, Boys & Girls Scouts and church organizations), and life skills.
How Did El Ranchito Get Started?
In 2000, El Ranchito was built by long-time Valencia residents Mike and Kathy Mechenbier, a successful grass-roots ranching and farming family. Through their active philanthropic efforts in the community, they recognized a need for more long-term homes for children whose parents could not care for them. They saw a growing, heart-breaking population of children being placed in foster homes and institutions where they were separated from their siblings. Mike and Kathy founded El Ranchito de los Niños to prevent this tragedy from happening to so many children.
How Is El Ranchito Unique?
- El Ranchito is one of the few Children's Home's that focuses specifically on keeping siblings together.
- El Ranchito is the only Children’s Home that is one large home specifically designed so that siblings will grow up together, and not in different cottages based on age or sex.
- El Ranchito is one of the few homes in New Mexico that takes in entire sibling groups under the age of 6.
- El Ranchito is the only Community Home in New Mexico that has a Residential Early Childhood Development Program specifically for children under the age of six using the latest research on learning and brain development.
- A low six-to-one caregiver-to-child-ratio allows individualized care for our children. The state's mandated ratio is a sixteen-to-one caregiver-to-child-ratio for children six and over.
- El Ranchito supports a child’s transition to independence even beyond eighteen years of age.
- El Ranchito provides an apartment for return visits after they have begun their own lives as adults after El Ranchito.
- When appropriate, El Ranchito encourages frequent, quality visits with the children's biological families.
How is the Home Designed?
The home is designed for 16 children with a boys’ and girls’ wing consisting of four bedrooms in each wing. House parents live in an apartment that is attached to each wing so the house parents are nearby should any child need them. The home includes a large kitchen and dining room where the family gathers for meals. The home also has a guest suite for the children when they come to visit once they have begun their own adult lives. In the center of the home there is a large, but cozy living room where the children watch movies, read and welcome visitors. A playground, barns, corrals, animals of all kinds, gardens, cornfields and an orchard surround the home. The home comes complete with handicapped accessible bedrooms and bathrooms.
Does El Ranchito Have any Religious Affiliations?
Although our house parents are of various faiths, the home is non-denominational. To respect and preserve the individual heritage of our children, El Ranchito de los Niños supports each child in their desire to practice their individual beliefs. In order for our children to grow in faith, we encourage each child to attend religious services on a weekly basis and encourage additional involvement with church youth activities.
What Are El Ranchito's Core Beliefs?
El Ranchito's goal is to have every child who enters our door leave fear and abuse at the front doorsteps. When our children leave, they enter the world as productive and educated adults whose children will never need our services.
We believe these three fundamental teachings are key to providing a healthy childhood for our children:
- There is a God
- Every child is important, is treated with dignity and taught to have self-worth
- Every child receives the best education possible