Children and family ministry changing lives in the Upstate

Building tomorrow’s families at Thornwell
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 7:06 AM EDT
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CLINTON, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Tucked away in the small quiet town of Clinton is a ministry campus serving hundreds of children, teens and families.

Since opening their doors in 1875, Thornwell continues to expand their services to help those who need it most. Described as a continuum of care, Thornwell’s mission is to bring children and families full circle.

“We go along the extra mile, we don’t easily disrupt kids from their place, but we will do everything possible to help foster placements stay intact,” said Thornwell’s President Myron Wilkins. “We are residential care, we have foster care, and we have in-home therapeutic services. What we’re able to do is that if kids may need a different setting, for whatever reason, we can meet that need still within our system. The continuity of care and support remains strong.”

The latest data from the Department of Social Services show nearly 4,000 children and teens are currently in foster care.

Wilkins knows even well-meaning families who help foster kids can face challenges.

“When families are in a time of crisis, they’re looking for anything. They look for help,” Wilkins explained. “I think they find with us here at Thornwell is they have a listening ear, caring hearts, and if we can help people--we work to advocate for them to find the services that they need.”

Thornwell is doing everything they can to help these families stay together and put an end to the revolving door of foster care.

“These kids bring a lot of baggage from their past trauma and the families aren’t always equipped to be able to really deal with that, especially as they move into being teenagers,” said Thornwell’s Residential Clinical Director Rebecca Moore. “We’re able to come alongside those kids and their families. We have family therapy where the families are able to work with the child. In therapy, we meet with the families and have support groups and we try to help the parents give them the training and support they need.”

Moore sees firsthand how working with foster children can make a world of difference.

“A lot of research has shown that it really only takes one person to be able to pour into a child and help them to feel that they’re loved and they’re worthy and that they have that support,” Moore added. “[They need someone to] be their cheerleader and our teaching parents can be that for the kids and that’s really exciting to see.”

Thornwell’s latest program ARC works with families who have adopted children struggling to deal with early experiences of trauma.

“We’re preparing to open up another cottage for boys--we’re seeing an increasing number of need for boys,” Wilkins said. “We’re hopeful to not only provide that safe place for kids. This is a more-intensive therapeutic program for the entire family with a goal of preserving their family because in our state a lot of times well-meaning parents will love and adopt a kid, but it can be tough. A lot of times adoptions fail and our hope is our program is going to help those adoptions stay firm and those kids to stay intact with their families.”

Those in the ARC program usually stay for 9-18 months and then Thornwell helps families with the reunification process.

To learn more about Thornwell, click here.