Carolina Children’s Home to change focus to eating disorders, counseling

cwinston@thestate.comFebruary 20, 2014 

Carolina Children's Home logo

— Officials at Carolina Children’s Home have seen the needs of the state’s children change a lot in its 105-year history.

The home, on Sunnyside Drive just off Trenholm Road, was established in 1909 as an orphanage. In the 1970s, CCH began offering community counseling and became a home for behaviorally challenged and mentally ill youth. Last year, CCH launched the state’s first comprehensive center focused on eating disorders.

On Thursday morning, CCH announced that serving this need would be the focus of the organization’s future.

The not-for-profit business will close its program for behaviorally challenged children and its residential program that focuses on youth with severe mental and behavioral illnesses. More than 20 young people, between the ages of 13 and 20, will be transfered elsewhere. And nearly 70 employees will be laid off. Those employees will be offered severance and transition services, and will receive “priority consideration” for vacant positions.

The organization will continue to operate under the CCH umbrella but will focus its brand on the Hearth Center for Eating Disorders, which opened just a year ago. Officials said the organization would remains at its current current facility and also continue its 35-year commitment to outpatient counseling.

Peggy Torrey, the organization’s executive director and CEO since 2011, said the center has served more than 200 clients in its first year, ranging from ages 9 to 64. The center offers four levels of care, from outpatient through residential. Currently, six young people facing eating disorders live in a cottage on the campus. That cottage can accomodate eight patients and the organization hopes to soon open another cottage.

Other buildings on the campus will be used for outpatient counseling services, as well as hosting families who are receiving group counseling and visiting loved ones receiving care.

“This refocusing on eating disorders and counseling is consistent with the mission and traditions of CCH,” said Will Ponder, chairman of the CCH board, in a press release.

“(Since 1909), CCH has identified underserved problems facing the youth of South Carolina and developed exceptional programs to help youth develop into productive adults. The Board believes that South Carolina’s need for eating disorder services is so great, that it wants CCH’s professional resources focused on building an outstanding program to help individuals with this debilitating disease recover.”

Torrey said the organization is leaving the more traditional residential program for a number of reasons, including the trend of fewer placements of troubled youth into group homes, as well as stagnant funding in recent years for state-supported programs.

She said the traditional program will be kept open until March 14, giving state agencies “as much time as possible” to find new homes for the 24 young people. State officials asked for at least seven days notice, Torrey said, but officials have provided a notice six weeks ahead of time.

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