Thompson Child & Family Focus, which helps 12,000 at-risk children and families annually, announced that it is expanding into South Carolina by merging with York County-based York Place, a similar agency that helps children who have experienced trauma.
The combined agency will be based in Charlotte and will operate under the name of Thompson Child & Family Focus, with current York Place CEO Marco Tomat as its leader, officials said.
Tomat replaces Thompson President Ginny Amendum, who announced last year that she intends to retire.
However, talk of merging the two organizations began before Amendums announcement, officials said.
Together, the merged charities will have an annual budget in excess of $20 million and a staff of over 400 people. Cuts in staff or programs are not planned as a result of the merger, officials said.
Nearly a dozen local charities have resorted to mergers or partnerships in the past two years as a way of surviving the economic downturn, but Thompson officials say this merger is not being orchestrated to save money or salvage endangered programs.
Its part of an ongoing push by Thompson to expand its reach to other areas of the Carolinas, said Thompson Board Chair Suzanne Bledsoe. Thompson has not previously had a presence in South Carolina, she said.
This is going to enable us to help a broader population, she said. Annually, these combined agencies serve 13,000 and we think there is a huge potential for growth.
Both agencies share a common background, having been founded by Episcopal dioceses and they continue to have parallel Episcopal faith-based missions of treatment and care.
Founded in 1886 as an orphanage, Thompson is a nonprofit operating three campuses in the Charlotte area, each providing comprehensive education, treatment, and care for children (birth to 18 years).
A majority of the children served have been exposed to domestic violence, substance abuse in the home, mental illness and extreme poverty.
Thompson also has a location in Durham and will soon have one in Lake Waccamaw, N.C., in a psychiatric residential treatment center that is being renovated.
York Place, on a 120-acre campus in York, S.C., was also established as an orphanage in 1850.
Its programs help young people with emotional and behavioral barriers.
It also offers psychiatric residential care for children and adolescents who need intensive treatment in an out-of-home placement.
The agencys campus will now serve as the S.C. regional office for Thompson.
Bledsoe noted a six-month national search was conducted to find a replacement for Amendum, and it was a happy coincidence that their final choice was also leading a nearby charity.
Amendum led Thompson for 17 years.
Tomat will transition into his new role by working part time at both agencies until the merger is completed.
He expects to be at Thompson headquarters full time by mid-April.
Amendum will work closely with Tomat during this transition and will continue to serve as needed as a consultant to the merged entity, officials said.
In addition to his leadership at York Place, Tomat has held management and counseling positions with the multistate nonprofit Youth Villages, as well as on-the-ground social work experience with the county of San Diego.
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