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Barium Springs Home for Children CEO John Koppelmeyer, left, meets with Bill Wasulko, board chairman of Homes for Children. Koppelmeyer will become chief executive officer of the merged entity between Grandfather Home for Children and Barium Springs Home for Children. Photo submitted



Originally published: 2014-03-06 10:12:01
Last modified: 2014-03-06 14:42:48

Children's homes merging

Two of North Carolina's oldest child welfare agencies, Grandfather Home for Children and Barium Springs Home for Children, will merge effective April 1.

The merger is to better serve the state's most at-risk children and their families as the provision and funding of their care undergo unprecedented change, according to home officials.

For many years, Grandfather Home for Children has operated as a subsidiary of an umbrella organization called Homes for Children. After the merger, Barium Springs Home for Children will become another subsidiary of Homes for Children. The parent company, Homes for Children, will have a board of directors equally represented by Barium Springs and Grandfather Home for Children.

By combining assets, the two agencies will become one of the largest child welfare providers in North Carolina, with a projected operating budget of $35 million and more than 360 employees and 350 foster families who serve some 3,500 children in 63 counties.

Grandfather Home is based in Banner Elk and has five offices in Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Waynesville and Winston-Salem. Barium Springs has 13 offices across central and Western North Carolina. Core services for both agencies are adoption, foster care and comprehensive treatment for traumatized or neglected children delivered in residential, outpatient and in-home settings.

Barium Springs and Grandfather Home already have closely aligned missions and their leaders believe the merger will enhance and expand the scope of services, provide a larger operating footprint and continuum of care  and deliver operational efficiencies, according to officials.

"These two great organizations share strong commitments to helping at-risk children and families, and an affinity to provide the highest quality services. Joining them will maximize our resources in a way that enables us to serve more of our fellow citizens in need," said John Koppelmeyer, chief executive officer of Barium Springs who will become chief executive officer of the merged entity.

"Each agency has evolved to meet the increasingly complex needs of our most vulnerable children and families. With the ever-changing behavioral health environment, we must continue to seek innovative solutions that help us to provide needed services more efficiently and maintain stable, sustainable growth."

Merger talks began more than six months ago as both agencies considered major shifts in their field, said Bill Wasulko, board chairman of Homes for Children.

Ongoing pressure on state and federal budgets had resulted in a decrease of more than $90 million for child welfare services in North Carolina since 2010, he noted.

"While marking our 100th anniversary, we were celebrating a rich history of service, while looking to the future and how to sustain our faith-based mission and vision," Wasulko said. "Bringing together two of the oldest and much admired child service providers in North Carolina just made sense."

The merger joins two agencies that are complementary in their strengths, cultures and vision, their leaders said. Both were established as orphanages by the Presbyterian Church; Barium Springs in 1891 and Grandfather in 1914. With more than 100 years of service each, the two nonprofits share a longtime commitment to children and a significant place in North Carolina history - two important factors in the decision to retain their names, operating boards and original campuses.

"The future of our state depends on the foundation on which we raise our children to become healthy and flourishing citizens," said Rhett Mabry, vice president of The Duke Endowment, a private foundation that has been a longtime supporter of Barium Springs and Grandfather Home. "I am proud of these two organizations and their ability to come together at a time when we need stable providers with more capacity to assist North Carolina's children and families in crisis."

About Grandfather Home for Children

Grandfather Home for Children is a Christian, nonprofit ministry providing love and healing to more than 600 children every year. The children served by Grandfather Home have experienced deep hurt and trauma from neglect and/or abuse, according to home officials. Since 1914, Grandfather Home has provided a nurturing environment to children in need at the ministry's main campus in Banner Elk and in other locations. Today, the campus hosts residential care programs and serves as the hub for an array of carefully-targeted services, including residential, psychiatric, foster and adoptive care. Grandfather Home has offices in Asheville, Banner Elk, Charlotte, Raleigh, Waynesville and Winston-Salem. For more information, contact (828) 898-5465 or visit http://www.grandfatherhome.org.

About Barium Springs Home for Children

Founded in 1891, Barium Springs Home for Children is committed to a safe and nurturing family life for every child in North Carolina. Serving more than 3,000 children and families last year, Barium Springs provides residential care programs, foster care and adoption programs. The nonprofit also provides outpatient therapy and educational, prevention and developmental programs. With 13 office locations throughout central and Western North Carolina, Barium Springs currently employs more than 200 professionals providing services in 41 North Carolina counties. For more information, contact Barium Springs at (704) 872-4157 or visit http://www.bariumsprings.org.