Thompson Child & Family Focus Opens New Treatment Center

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Thompson Child & Family Focus, a nonprofit provider of treatment, care and education for at-risk children and families, will commemorate the opening of its new specialized psychiatric residential facility from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 24. Thompson supporters, community partners and staff will gather for a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a reception and tours of the 15,000-square-foot complex at the agency’s residential campus at 6800 Saint Peter’s Lane.

The highly specialized facility will provide clinical and behavioral therapy for youth who exhibit problematic sexual behaviors stemming from sexual abuse or extreme and repeated exposure to inappropriate sexual experiences. Recognizing a gap in services for this population, Thompson launched a successful $10 million capital campaign in 2007, earmarking $3.6 million for the construction and operation of the facility. Situated on Thompson’s Saint Peter’s Lane Upper Campus, the center is one of only a few facilities in North Carolina specializing in the treatment and healing of sexually reactive youth.

With capacity for up to 24 children, ages five to 13, two of the four six-bedroom wings will open in August to accommodate 12 boys. The two remaining wings will be designated for occupancy according to needs.

Children entering this program require an intense level of intervention and therapy for a range of behaviors including sexual aggression and sexually reactive behaviors towards others, self-injurious behaviors, poor boundaries with peers and adults, extreme impulsivity, and difficulties with anger management.

Without intervention and treatment, these children are at-risk for becoming juvenile offenders and/or perpetuating the cycle of abuse that has scarred their childhoods. Referrals for placement in the program are already coming from departments of social services, juvenile justice and mental health, along with hospitals and private therapists.

The center’s design – a warm, home-like atmosphere – provides a safe and secure haven for healing and recovery that reflects the vision and experience of Thompson staff. The complex is structured differently from the stand-alone residential cottages on the Lower Campus, with all four wings connected for a higher degree of security. Large open spaces and interior windows allow staff to stand in virtually any spot of the living, dining, kitchen and office areas, providing a line of visual supervision at all times. And, individual bedrooms and bathrooms are equipped with “break-away” door hooks and shower rods to prevent self-inflicted injuries.
The roomy living area encourages shared activities, with computer learning alcoves, play and reading nooks, and a family dining space. All furnishings have been chosen especially with the children in mind, providing comfy gathering spots and ample personal space. The new complex was built by Rodgers Builders and designed by the architectural firm, Fryday & Doyne.

With staffing that exceeds requirements – three staff for six children – Thompson is able to provide children with extensive individual therapy and emotional support. The primary behavioral therapy model utilized by staff is a modified version of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which includes skill-building around self-regulation, impulse control, and mindfulness. Other treatment modalities will include play therapy, art therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral therapy, and other Expressive Arts components. Clients are educated about how to create healthy, appropriate relationships and boundaries. Additionally, they must also address individual sexual abuse histories through individual counseling sessions. The average length-of-stay is expected to be one year. Like all Thompson programs, the treatment program embraces the family by providing training skills, behavior modeling and emotional support.

The new program expands Thompson’s psychiatric residential program on the Saint Peter’s Lane campus, where the Lower Campus residential treatment facility already serves up to 24 boys and girls, ages six to 12, at any one time. These children receive treatment and support that helps them heal from attachment disorders and mental illnesses stemming from early traumas that include abuse, neglect and exposure to domestic violence. Psychiatric Residential Treatment is one of several types of mental health interventions/programs included in Thompson’s continuum of services.
About Heroic Measures Capital Campaign

The successful $10 million Heroic Measures capital campaign was launched in 2007 to advance the increasingly urgent mission and work of Thompson Child & Family Focus. Heroic Measures was chaired by: Steele Alphin, former chief administrative officer, Bank of America; David Dooley, vice chairman, RT Dooley; John Fennebresque, partner, McGuire Woods; and General John Handy, retired executive vice president, Horizon Lines, Inc.
Each of the wings in the new Upper Campus complex is named in honor of supportive community leaders who responded to Thompson’s critical need for the development of additional facilities and programs to better serve children and families in a specialized setting. The wings are named as follows:
• The Yorke Cottage – named for the late John Yorke, longtime Thompson supporter and fellow trustee; made possible by gifts from Thompson board of trustee members and colleagues.
• The Alphin Cottage – named for Thompson trustee and former Bank of America executive Steele Alphin; made possible by gifts from friends and business associates.
• The Merancas Cottage – donated by anonymous partners and supporters of Thompson.
Naming opportunities are still available for the fourth cottage, currently called Peace Cottage.
About Thompson Child and Family Focus

The Episcopal Church founded Thompson Child & Family Focus as an orphanage in 1886. Thompson has evolved into a leading provider of effective clinical and behavioral treatment, developmental education, and proactive care for at-risk children and families. All programs are nationally accredited.
Thompson operates three campuses in the Charlotte region:
• The Saint Peter’s Lane Campus in Matthews houses Thompson’s two psychiatric residential treatment centers for children with serious mental illnesses stemming from horrific early childhood traumas, most often involving domestic violence, sexual abuse and/or long-term neglect. The Upper Campus center specializes in the treatment of sexually reactive youth, while the Lower Campus center focuses on treating children diagnosed with attachment disorders and related mental-health issues. The Lower Campus also houses The School at Thompson for residential children, and the main administration offices.
• The Clanton Road Campus in West Charlotte houses the Thompson Child Development Center, which provides developmental and preventive programming for young children (infant to age 5) and their families, through diverse educational and therapeutic resources. This campus also includes the Early Childhood Services Department, which provides support and mentor relationships for other early childhood programs across Mecklenburg, Union, and Cabarrus counties.
• The East 7th Street Campus near uptown Charlotte houses an array of mental health community services including outpatient counseling, foster care services, school-based intervention therapy, intensive in-home services, and family education. These services are designed to “wrap around” children and families, providing an accessible, effective menu of services that support individual needs and healing.
For more information about Thompson, please visit www.thompsoncff.org.

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