Featured Story

Featured Letter: We’re changing young people’s lives at Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch

Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch has had the privilege of being a part of the Riverhead community for the entirety of our organization’s 45-year history. We are proud of our positive impact on countless lives in the developmental, therapeutic, spiritual and societal realms. 

We feel that it is our obligation to our residents, staff and many supporters to respond to the recent article titled “‘No foul play suspected’: What happens when a teenager runs away from Riverhead’s Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch” published in your paper on July 14. We saw that there were shortcomings in the reporting which did not put events outlined in the article into proper context. This was particularly egregious when discussing issues relating to runaway youth. While this is a concern for every child care agency, the public must understand that every young person in our care was ordered to our facilities by the judicial system and judges. 

With this comes responsibilities and requirements. It is our view that reported events were explained with a predisposed negative slant toward Timothy Hill. It is also our opinion that events referenced in the article were sensationalized. This article was an unfair depiction of the hard work and dedication of both residents and staff. 

As an example, Timothy Hill provided just under 13,000 days of care for troubled youth in 2021. We are bound by a New York State regulation to file a missing person’s report after just one hour of a youth’s departure from our facility. This mandate drives up the number of calls we must make to police. However, in more than two-thirds of instances residents return safely in just a few hours. Factoring in the traumatic backgrounds of many of our residents, we consider the handful of calls made to police a month to not be significant. 

One of our core values as an organization is “Authentic Relationships.” We are committed to transparency. These are deeply held principles that have allowed us to serve and successfully care for thousands of young people. We are very proud that in recent years 80% of our teenage residents have been successfully unified with their families.

As an extension of our values and our commitment to transparency, we have invited the Riverhead News-Review onto our campus for an unfiltered look into our day-to-day work of transforming lives through love. We are confident that both the work we are doing and the evidence of life change within our young people’s experience speak clearly of our organization’s character. We take on challenges and do difficult work, we are part of the fabric of Riverhead and we feel that the vast majority of the greater Long Island community embraces and appreciates our efforts.

We welcome conversations and expression of concerns from any member of the community, as fellow neighbors and citizens striving to leave positive impacts on our communities.

Mr. Hill is executive director of Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch.