Murphy-Harpst Children’s Centers
An agency of the United Methodist Church under the auspicies of the Women’s Division of the Board of Global Ministries, Murphy-Harpst Children’s Centers is located in Cedartown, Georgia, and serves children ages 7 to 18 who have been severely abused. Established in 1924, the mission of Murphy-Harpst is to provide a safe and nurturing environment where severely abused and neglected children can thrive and heal. With extremely challenging behaviors, the children require extensive healing before successful adoption, foster care, or group home placements are possible.
Most of the children are wards of the State of Georgia and have a long history of numerous failed placements in the foster care system. For example, a child that was featured in an interview aired by Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) radio on February 15, 2011, had failed in 52 foster care placements (http://www.gpb.org/news/2011/02/15/murphy-harpst-childrens-center) prior to coming to Murphy-Harpst.
Hence, Murphy-Harpst is often the last hope for these children, and without the intensive therapy, the Christian nurturing, and the loving care we provide, they would be unable to return to the community. There are 54 children in residence at a given time. As some of the children may stay less than a year , we served 98 children in residence in 2009-10. For years, Murphy-Harpst has consistently transitioned 80% (8 of 10) of the children served back into family homes or independent living settings for older adolescents.
In addition to residential care, Murphy-Harpst’s Specialized Foster Care program provides well-trained and compassionate family placements for children removed from parental custody due to abuse and neglect. The program trains parents to serve these special needs children and provides round-the-clock support to assist parents in handling challenging behaviors. Specialized foster care placements are often a step-down from residential care and allow children to be fully reintegrated into the community while continuing a high level of clinical support.
Through its Permanency Services initiative, Murphy-Harpst seeks out and facilitates permanent living situations when all traditional foster care resources are exhausted. Leading the state in establishing the program in 2010, Murphy-Harpst is proud of six children who have successfully completed this initiative over the past year. The program continues to expand to meet some of the demands of an overburdened state foster care system.
In 2009-10, Murphy-Harpst served a total of 261 children, including 98 in residential care, 36 in specialized foster care, and 127 in outpatient clinical treatment services to the local community. As emphasized in the recent GPB interview, Murphy-Harpst and organizations with similar missions have suffered serious cutbacks in state and federal funding over the past three years. Because of such cuts, some of these organizations in the State of Georgia have had to close. Murphy-Harpst must raise approximately 18 to 20 percent of its operating budget from private funding sources and depends heavily on the generosity of United Methodist Churches for support.
The programs of Murphy-Harpst Centers are nationally accredited by the Joint Commission. In its most recent survey, Murphy-Harpst’s score placed it in the top 10% of approximately 15,000 Joint Commission accredited healthcare organizations.
Contact information: 740 Fletcher Street, Cedartown, GA 30125-3249 (706) 232-5663; www.murphyharpst.org.