Earlier this year, a Wyoming ranch, accused of mistreating children and compelling them to engage in manual labor, had its license revoked by state authorities due to a series of safety and hygiene violations. However, the ranch has managed to continue operating without the need for a license to care for children, a development that has raised concerns among advocates for youth rights.
In June, the Wyoming Department of Family Services revoked the group home license of Triangle Cross Ranch, an establishment that claims it can help transform unruly teenage boys into “thoughtful, respectful, and responsible young men” for a monthly fee of $5,800.
The facility, which typically has a maximum of five boys enrolled at any given time, will now function without a license because the owner, as stated last month, was appointed legal guardian of the youth residing there, according to a spokesperson from the department. The owner provided documentation of this, which was filed in Wyoming.
Furthermore, state authorities will no longer conduct routine welfare inspections moving forward, due to an additional licensing exemption for ranches or farms that do not provide services to children who are homeless, involved in delinquent activities, or have intellectual disabilities, as outlined in the department’s regulations.
Donna Sheen, founder and director of the Wyoming Children’s Law Center, a nonprofit organization, expressed deep concern, stating, “It’s incredibly troubling that they would have decided to go this route after losing their license to be a child caring facility.” She pointed out that the Department of Family Services will now require a specific allegation or complaint in order to investigate the ranch.
In a brief conversation, Gerald Schneider, the owner of the ranch, confirmed that the program is now operating under the name Sunlight Mountain Boys Ranch. The website under the new name is nearly identical to the Triangle Cross Ranch website, utilizing the same email and phone contact information, and listing the same staff members. However, it does not mention its previous name or the absence of licensing. Schneider declined further questions and ended the call, and the ranch did not respond to an email seeking comment.