The history of Saint Francis
The Rev. Robert Mize Jr., an Episcopal priest, founded Saint Francis Boys’ Home nearly seven decades ago in Ellsworth, Kansas. Fr. Bob had seen too many troubled youth disappear forever into the juvenile justice system, and he wanted to help them reclaim their lives and their futures. He offered hope. Over the years, the scope of our ministry has grown, encompassing foster care, therapeutic foster care, adoption, family preservation, residential care, and community outreach services. We provide child welfare services in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and adult developmental disabilities services in Mississippi. Saint Francis Boys’ Home began with 12 boys; today Saint Francis Ministries serves thousands of children and youth. Yet, we still do the same work begun by Fr. Bob – helping children and youth find a more hopeful future.
Since 1945, Saint Francis Ministries has been dedicated to the needs of children and youth. We advocate for them and work to protect them. We do our best to ensure that every child we serve gets a chance at a happy and fulfilling life. As a non-profit, faith-based organization, we place great stock in the value of both traditional and non-traditional families. We believe strong families make children’s lives better.
What began as a home for boys on the Kansas prairie is now a multi-faceted child and family services ministry serving over 31,000 people in Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas with a broad range of programs and services. We help strengthen and heal families while providing for the health and security of children.
Though rooted in the Episcopal tradition, Saint Francis Ministries is an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection, nurturing, and healing of children and families in body, mind, and spirit. To that end, while partnering with government agencies in supporting children and families in crisis, Saint Francis Ministries honors religious freedom and is also committed to allowing children and families in its care to participate in religious activities on a voluntary basis.
Saint Francis, providing healing and hope to children and families.
Transform lives and systems.
We deliver services at the highest levels of excellence, in a manner that exceeds traditional standards, provided in a transparent, timely and reliable way by highly qualified, kind, and respectful staff.
We provide care that supports and reflects an understanding of a person, regardless of differences. This extends to our staff, clients and the communities we serve.
We meet a changing environment by developing more effective solutions through the lens of evaluating current and past practices, and continuous improvement using creative invention, promising practices, and evidence-based research.
We take ownership of our work, exercise decision making to achieve goals, and maximize quality of services with shared accountability and responsibility.
We believe in Therapy in Christ.
What does this mean to us?
We offer unconditional love.
Forgiveness leads to transformation.
We are accountable to ourselves and others.
We start and end each day with God.
Our treatment approach centers on the dignity and worth of every human being. “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” Saint Francis of Assisi.
The recognition and honor of the presence of God within each person distinguishes Saint Francis Ministries from most child welfare agencies. Therapy in Christ, the spiritual component of our highly successful treatment programs, is integral to our holistic approach to healing the spirit, mind, and body. Therapy in Christ incorporates four basic principles:
These principles undergird our continuum of care, which ranges from prevention and intervention programs to residential facilities.
Saint Francis Ministries began as the vision of The Rev. Robert Mize Jr., an Episcopal priest serving several small churches in western Kansas during the 1940s. Early in his ministry, Fr. Bob noticed that many boys labeled “juvenile delinquents” were becoming lost within a system of institutions, reformatories, and jails. This troubled him deeply, and he grew determined to create an alternative – one that offered hope and the opportunity for wayward young men to reclaim their potential.
Through Fr. Bob’s tireless efforts, Saint Francis Boys’ Home opened its doors in Ellsworth, Kansas, in 1945. A staff of four supervised and served its first residents, a dozen unruly young men. Three years later, Fr. Bob opened a second Boys’ Home just west of Salina, Kansas, near Bavaria.
Today, Saint Francis serves more than 31,000 children and families and employs about 1,300 people in six states.
Firmly entrenched within the Episcopal tradition and dedicated to service, our mission has remained unchanged since 1945 – to serve children and families as an instrument of hope and of healing in body, mind, and spirit.