Facility Spotlight: Chief Dan Old Elk Village

TUCSON, Ariz. – VQ National, a comprehensive child, youth and family services organization, announced the opening of its new residential care facility this month.  

The Chief Dan Old Elk Village will provide safe and trauma-informed shelter care for female teens who have entered the United States without a legal guardian.  Consisting of six homes, the 24-hour care facility will house and provide medical, clinical, legal and educational services for up to 30 girls, ages 8-17.  

The facility is named for former VQ board member, Chief Dan Old Elk, who, along with founder Bob Burton, Sr., was instrumental in creating VQ.  

A member of the Crow tribe in Montana, Old Elk collaborated with Burton to create a program that would mentor and intervene in the lives of at-risk youth as an alternative to the punitive juvenile justice system.  The program, which was modeled after Native American world-views and child-rearing practices, grew to become the largest, private-sector youth corrections program in the U.S.

“Our program is designed to provide guided centering that helps kids become more in control,” said Burton.  “Dan was a spiritual leader and healer, and our job is to help these kids heal.”

Old Elk was a Board of Trustees member until his death in December of 2019, and was proud of the more than 100,000 youth the program served. He remained a consultant with VQ for more than 40 years.

The new facility named after Dan Old Elk will offer services that include:

  • The Sanctuary Model of Trauma Informed Care
  • Aggression Replacement Training
  • The Seven Challenges

These services assist youth in coming to terms with their pasts and help them deal with the challenges that face them. Complementing these services are many dedicated, caring youth care workers who serve as role models for youth to emulate. Combined, this program will help the youth in our care develop in positive, healthy directions and give them the tools they need to succeed once they leave the program.

Within 24 hours of entering the facility, each child is medically, mentally and emotionally assessed and provided any medically or psychologically necessary treatment, a hot meal, a care plan, and a bed of her own.

Within the first 48 hours, VQ works to contact families in the child’s home country as well as to find family members or sponsors in the U.S.

VQ’s primary mission is to reunite children with their families or approved sponsor families within a month, making the average stay approximately 30 days. Some children, if they are unable to be placed rapidly, may enter VQ long-term foster care program, where they live in smaller homes, attend public school, and volunteer in their communities while our case managers work with legal assistance programs and appointed legal counsel to establish permanent legal residency and placement.

The children coming to VQ through the Office of Refugee Relocation program all have a different story. Some may be fleeing gang violence while others may have been victims of sex trafficking or LGBTQ+ discrimination.  VQ takes in these children seeking a new life in America and gives them the personal and medical care, legal assistance and respect that they, and all children, deserve.

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