Children’s Hope Alliance Brings Hope and Healing to North Carolina Children

Published Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Chief Development Officer Abigail Lord-Ramsay (left) and Development Officer Panshua Riley (right)

By Katherine Hart and Karrigan Hall

High in Banner Elk, about 14 miles from iconic Grandfather Mountain, lies the Grandfather Home for Children, a campus of the Children’s Hope Alliance. The campus features elegantly styled, cottage-like residence halls, wide grassy fields and a view of the Christmas trees growing on the nearby hills. This peaceful sight is what greets many of the young people who come into the care of the Children’s Hope Alliance as they begin their journey into recovery.

Children’s Hope Alliance is a nonprofit organization that seeks to restore families, provide help for struggling youth and open up new avenues for healing. It includes a campus in Statesville, a shelter in Bryson City and the Grandfather Home in Banner Elk. It has been serving children and young people across North Carolina for over 125 years.

History of Children’s Hope Alliance

The organization’s roots stretch all the way back to 1883, when the Presbyterian Orphans Home, which would later become Barium Springs, was opened. Then in 1914, the Grandfather Home for Children was formed in Banner Elk.

Children’s Hope Alliance was officially formed in 2014 when Barium Springs and Grandfather Home for Children came together to strive towards one mission — to bring hope and healing to children and families across North Carolina.

Mission of Children’s Hope Alliance

Through the organization’s 30 programs, Children’s Hope Alliance breaks down its mission into three parts. The first is providing homes, foster care and adoption programs. Healing is a huge part of the mission; as part of the mission, Children’s Hope Alliance cares for not only the children, but also for the families who have faced mental and physical abuse or neglect.

Another part of the mission is to help residents and families pursue healthy lifestyles and education by providing programs that help them develop life skills and prevent behavioral problems. Through these services, the organization seeks to meet kids where they are in order to provide proper services.

Pangshua Riley, development officer of the Children’s Hope Alliance, spoke not only about educating residents and helping the recovery process, but also helping them to just be kids. “There’s still a youthfulness we can save,” said Riley.

Healing Process

There are around 25 residents ages 12 to 17 living on the Grandfather Home campus alone. The length of stay for residents tends to be between six to eight months. During their stay, Children’s Hope Alliance staff members work with residents to tailor services to their specific needs.

Children’s Hope Alliance uses four levels of care to help their young residences. Level four helps children in need of the highest level of care, who are often struggling with complex trauma, and provides them with a safe, secure environment to receive treatment..

As residents transition to the third level of care, they begin taking on more responsibilities, like chores, and begin practicing healthy boundaries and coping mechanisms. They can participate in special activities on weekends, after coming up with safety plans that allow help them feel more comfortable and secure on outings.

During the second level of care, residents can begin to take part in the community. They learn calm, mature responses to situations they may face off-campus and begin transitioning to public schools and working with mentors. Older teens can also take on jobs.

At the lowest level of care, level one care, young people have learned to manage their own emotions. Many residents at the first level are simply waiting to go home with parents or guardians, and the Children’s Hope Alliance has resources available for those patients to help them succeed after they leave.

Resources such as the “Stand By Me” and TASK (Treatment Alternatives for Sexualized Kids) programs seek to provide support and safety for children and families. Children’s Hope Alliance aims to be a progressive agency with 350 employees across the state. When asked what makes this job so special she said, “I want to be a part of the healing.” This organization is passionate, authentic and eager to provide the best care possible for the community.

Riley said that if all children in foster care had the kind of opportunities offered by the Children’s Hope Alliance,”they would be able to thrive in adulthood.”

Advocating for Children’s Hope Alliance

Although she expressed a great deal of love for the Children’s Hope Alliance and the work they do, Riley also said, “I dream about the day I don’t have to have this job.” But as long as there are children and families suffering, nonprofits like Children’s Hope Alliance will be there to provide sanctuary and healing as long as they have community support.

Riley said that one of the most important things the community can do to help is to learn. Schedule a tour of the Grandfather Home, learn about public policies regarding children’s welfare and become an advocate for children in North Carolina. She also encouraged financial contributions and emphasized the importance of covering head costs for each child and funding day-to-day operations.

If you are interested in learning more about Children’s Hope Alliance, the work they do and how you can help, visit their website at childrenshopealliance.org or call 1-800-320-4157 to schedule a free tour.

To partner with Children’s Hope Alliance through financial giving and children’s advocacy, contact them today to help create a safer and healthier community.

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