About Us

VQ has remained dedicated to the same goals we were founded on in 1973: helping youth in adverse situations and bringing families closer together.

VQ operates in numerous diverse communities across the United States, but regardless of where our programs are, we constantly strive to provide youth with brighter futures and work to build the relational strength of families. We currently offer residential programming, community-based services, and in-home services to children and their families in six states: Delaware, Maryland, Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

VQ is a national comprehensive child, youth and family services organization committed to providing successful and effective services while adhering to the highest professional standards.

VQ has nearly 50 years of experience with providing children, youth and families with trauma-informed practice to promote their highest potential. We are cognizant of the histories that children, youth and families come to us with, but also help them look toward a future with positive growth and change.

Our services are designed and delivered with these foundations and principles:

Children and Youth
are safe, respected and honored

Families
are protected, strengthened and educated

Our team
is developed, supported and encouraged

Communities
are engaged, valued, and involved

Children and Youth
are safe, respected and honored

Families
are protected, strengthened and educated

Our team
is developed, supported and encouraged

Communities
are engaged, valued, and involved

VQ was originally founded as VisionQuest National, Ltd.

VQ, VisionQuest National Ltd., was established in 1973 in Tucson, Arizona by founder Robert L. Burton. After working in the harsh and ineffective juvenile corrections systems of the 1960s, Bob moved west to become a VISTA volunteer with Native American populations in the northern plains. There he met Dan Old Elk, a leader in the Crow Nation who introduced Bob to the rite of passage ceremony, a ‘vision quest,' which is meant to help a young person transition from the confusion of adolescence to adulthood. Inspired by this time, Bob envisioned a healthier and more humane way to deal with America’s delinquent youth. Instead of shutting young teenagers away in locked institutions as a form of punishment, VisionQuest developed unique adventure quests like the wagon trains and living history programs like the “Buffalo Soldiers." Participating in these extraordinary experiences gave these young people an opportunity to experience success by hard work and commitment giving them a new frame of reference for a positive future.

​As of 2020, VQ has served more than 150,000 youth ​through local, state, and federal partnerships.

We dedicate ourselves to providing the highest quality services and surrounding the children and teens in our programs with staff who can also serve as healthy, positive role models. We currently offer residential programming, community-based services, and in-home services to children and their families in six states: Delaware, Maryland, Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Texas. ​

With nearly 50 years of service, VQ strives to improve every community it interacts with.

VQ, originally founded as VisionQuest National, Ltd., was established in 1973 in Tucson, Arizona by founder Robert Ledger Burton.  After working in the harsh and ineffective juvenile corrections system in the 1960’s, Bob moved west to become a VISTA volunteer with Native American populations in the Northern Plains. There, he met Dan Old Elk, a leader in the Crow Nation who introduced Bob to the rite of passage ceremony, a ‘vision quest’, which is meant to help a young person transition from the confusion of adolescence to adulthood. Inspired by this time, Bob envisioned a healthier and more humane way to deal with America’s delinquent youth. Instead of shutting young, out of control teenage boys away in locked, state-run institutions as a form of punishment, Bob sought to create an alternative method, one featuring extraordinary outdoor experiences supervised by positive role models that would allow these young men - and later, young women - to move through the adversities of adolescence to productive adulthood. 

​As of 2020, VQ has served more than 150,000 youth ​through local, state, and federal partnerships.

We dedicate ourselves to providing the highest quality services and surrounding the children and teens in our programs with staff who can also serve as healthy, positive role models. We currently offer residential programming, community-based services, and in-home services to children and their families in six states: Delaware, Maryland, Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Texas. ​

Mark Contento

CEO

VQ is dedicated to the care, treatment and education of youth facing challenges in their lives. Whether those challenges involve behavioral issues, juvenile justice matters, mental health difficulties, uncontrolled addictions or dysfunctional home life, VQ welcomes the opportunity to help. Since 1973, VQ has served the needs of these youth, their families and their communities and has positively impacted the lives of many thousands of children.  Our history is one of innovation, purposeful action, dedication and dogged commitment to the health, safety and welfare of all those we serve.

I am proud to have been affiliated with VQ since 1982 in the capacity of legal counsel, Executive Vice President, President and, currently, Chief Executive Officer.  During those years of service, what impressed me most, and perhaps inspired me more than anything, has been the passion and dedication of the staff who work here.  It is those staff who devote their lives to the youth we care for and who sacrifice so much for those children’s benefit that instills hope in the next generations and inspires my faith in the future of this country.

Over the years we have evolved from a program that challenged conventional thinking on the treatment of troubled youth to a program that embraces evidenced-based service models and data-driven decision making.  That maturity and growth mirrored the maturity and growth of the industry as a whole, which has itself come to better understand the dynamics of human trauma and the impacts it has on behavior.  We believe that our efforts, both early in our history and continuing through today, have helped shape and influence the growth and development of that industry.

We are dedicated to compliance and always doing the right thing.  We aspire to be the employer of choice for anyone interested to work in this field.  We are committed to creating and always maintaining a safe environment.  We welcome all positive perspectives and all honorable people.  We do not cut corners, we learn from our mistakes and we take responsibility for all our actions.

We are VQ.

Bob Burton

Founder

In 1973, almost 50 years ago I left my career working in juvenile justice institutions or lockups of the time to start an alternative in the private sector. I named this program after the native American rite of passage, the vision quest, because of my time spent as a Vista volunteer with Native Americans in the Crow tribe in Montana. While there I developed a lasting collaboration and friendship with a young tribal leader, Dan Old Elk who was later instrumental in the development and operation of VQ. I was honored to be adopted into his family and to be given the right to use the tribal ceremonies in my work with people. Later, having met a talented partner in Steve Rogers who came with me from the field of corrections, we set out to challenge young offenders by having them make commitments and then ask them to live up to them.

Not only were we pioneers in the shift away from large state-run institutions we literally became pioneers. In the year of our country’s Bicentennial, 1976, we started a wagon train program crisscrossing the country for a decade, powered by mules, youthful offenders, and incredible staff members. In the years since, over 150,000 young people have participated in adventure based and community-based programming in 10 states.   We were known for taking the toughest kids and we did a good job with them.

Just like the juvenile justice system has changed, VQ has adapted its program into new categories known as “best practices” for youth in trouble. Taking on the shattered lives of dependent kids whose lives have been damaged by their dysfunctional families has added new dimensions to VQ’s circle of care.  Most recently, we have been honored to provide therapeutic, humane shelter services to youngsters who have traveled their own “quest” in coming thousands of miles to find a place of safety in our country.

In its basic form we use the circle as an approach to treatment, perspectives, communications and organizational structure. Each cardinal direction provides a guidepost for going full circle through the program. This nonlinear approach was based on the Native American medicine wheel which in many ways served as a guide for behavior and tool for communications in community life.

There has been a core group of staff members over the years, known within our company as SPS (Senior Professional Staff) who have committed themselves to VQ’s on-going improvement.  In doing so they have made all the difference.  I have seen the ethic of the SPS is ever continuing and I am encouraged that our philosophy will remain influential in the treatment of kids in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is VQ?

VQ is a comprehensive child, youth, and family services organization that operates nationwide to bring help to areas in need. We offer a wide range of services for both youth and their families and ensure that those services are of the highest quality.

Where does VQ operate?

VQ currently operates in 6 states across the United States: Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Texas. We are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to expand and bring our programs to new communities to provide help to youth in need.

What services does VQ provide?

VQ provides a wide variety of services, including Functional Family Therapy, care for unaccompanied minors entering the U.S., group homes for youth transitioning into independent living, specialized residential care, and foster and adoptive services.

Why isn’t VQ a non-profit organization?

There are a number of reasons that VQ was designed as a for-profit organization, but foremost among these is the idea that to stay competitive, a company operating for a profit must maintain the highest standards possible at all times. It is for this reason that VQ is constantly on the cutting edge when it comes to the services we offer and the way in which we care for our youth.

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VQ is dedicated to the care, treatment and education of youth facing challenges in their lives. Whether those challenges involve behavioral issues, juvenile justice matters, mental health difficulties, uncontrolled addictions or dysfunctional home life, VQ welcomes the opportunity to help. Since 1972 VQ has served the needs of these youth, their families and their communities and has positively impacted the lives of many thousands of children .  Our history is one of innovation, purposeful action, dedication and dogged commitment to the health, safety and welfare of all those we serve.

I am proud to have been affiliated with VQ since 1982 in the capacity of legal counsel, Executive Vice President, President and, currently, Chief Executive Officer.  During those years of service, what impressed me most, and perhaps inspired me more than anything, has been the passion and dedication of the staff who work here.  It is those staff who devote their lives to the youth we care for and who sacrifice so much for those children’s benefit that instills hope in the next generations and inspires my faith in the future of this country.

Over the years we have evolved from a program that challenged conventional thinking on the treatment of troubled youth to a program that embraces evidenced-based service models and data-driven decision making.  That maturity and growth mirrored the maturity and growth of the industry as a whole, which has itself come to better understand the dynamics of human trauma and the impacts it has on behavior.  We believe that our efforts, both early in our history and continuing through today, have helped shape and influence the growth and development of that industry.

We are dedicated to compliance and always doing the right thing.  We aspire to be the employer of choice for anyone interested to work in this field.  We are committed to creating and always maintaining a safe environment.  We welcome all positive perspectives and all honorable people.  We do not cut corners, we learn from our mistakes and we take responsibility for all our actions.

We are VQ.

Mark Contento

CEO

Bob Burton

Founder

Bob Burton

Founder

Mark Contento

CEO

Bob Burton

Founder

Bob Burton

Founder

Bob Burton

Founder

Bob Burton

Founder