Thompson gets $1 million Duke Endowment grant for foster care services in region

From staff reports

Thompson runs a variety of programs for children in the Charlotte area.
Thompson runs a variety of programs for children in the Charlotte area. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

Thompson, headquartered in Matthews, N.C., has received a $1 million grant from The Duke Endowment to fund an expansion in evidence-based family education programming and foster care services in the Carolinas.

Thompson is a nonprofit organization serving Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Buncombe and Union Counties in North Carolina and York County in South Carolina with a wide continuum of mental health services that enable children and families to live stable, healthy and independent lives. For 131 years, the organization has provided aid to the community. Last year alone, Thompson served more than 12,000 individuals.

The Endowment grant will be used to increase the number of well-equipped foster homes for youth requiring out-of-home care and to fund prevention services that reduce the rate of child abuse seen across the Carolinas. Collaborations with local Departments of Social Services have found that the current foster care system isn’t robust enough to handle current needs, and the lack of high-quality training and support for foster parents is only deepening the issue.

Additionally, the grant helps Thompson bring the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) to the Carolinas for the first time. QPI – an approach that strengthens foster care by refocusing on excellent parenting for all children in the welfare system – is currently being implemented in six states and three county welfare systems. All sites have reported improvements with the recruitment of foster care homes, foster family satisfaction and retention, placement stability and foster family involvement with birth families.

Thompson’s proposal for a two-pronged approach will expand evidence-based family education programming and foster care services, which will address the problem of child maltreatment in the Carolinas while decreasing the need for foster care overall. By replicating proven models for strengthening families and helping adolescents transition from foster care into independent living, Thompson will help reduce cases of child maltreatment, decrease the number of children removed from their homes and increase the availability and quality of out-of-home care when necessary.

“Every year, 122,100 children in North Carolina and 46,100 children in South Carolina are involved in cases of abuse and neglect,” Thompson President and CEO Will Jones said in a statement. “Thompson’s proposed expansion uses proven strategies that directly address the problem of child maltreatment.”

“The Duke Endowment believes that evidence-based interventions are the most effective for successfully improving the lives of children and their families,” said a statement from Phil Redmond Jr., director of the Endowment’s Child Care program area. “We believe this grant will expand access to effective parenting programs for caregivers, and increase well-being outcomes for children and teens in foster care.”

Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3.6 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.