YORK — York Place, a residential treatment and outpatient counseling center for troubled children and families, has announced plans to merge with a much larger Charlotte-based center that offers similar services.
The York center led by CEO Marco Tomat — which serves about 400 children each year in residential and outpatient programs — announced an agreement to merge with Thompson Child & Family Focus. Thompson serves about 12,000 children and families across North Carolina annually from three campuses.
Tomat, 44, has been named to lead the organization, replacing Thompson CEO Ginny Amendum, who plans to retire. Tomat said both boards approved the merge, expected to take place in about 60 days.
He said York Place, located on a 120-acre campus in York, will retain its name, mission and continue its present services; it will act as a division of Thompson and as South Carolina regional office for programming.
He also said no staffing cuts will take place.
“This wasn’t about survival, this was about thriving,” he said.
The new agency will be based in Charlotte and operate under the name Thompson Child & Famiy Focus. Tomat said the merger proposal grew from talks between himself and Amendum beginning last summer about how the two agencies could partner to expand both ministries.
“The discussion rapidly turned into how our treatment paradigms, as well as our philosophies, really blend so well,” Tomat said. “We talked about the parallels between the two agencies. We are more similar than we are dissimilar, so why don’t we look into a more permanent partnership?”
Both agencies share Episopal faith-based legacies. Both were established as orphanages by Episcopal Dioceses — York Place in 1850 by the South Carolina Diocese and Thompson in 1886 by the North Carolina arm.
“This potential collaboration honors our faith-based beginnings and mutual goals, while greatly expanding throughout the Carolinas our united ministry that calls us to heal children, restore families and rebuild trust in a Christian context,” said Catherine Jones, chair of the York Place board.
Tomat became CEO at York Place in early 2012, replacing John Shiflett, who retired in December 2011. He has led the agency’s effort to diversify its services, in part due to dwindling Medicaid funding, a push to treat children in lower-cost home or community-based settings instead of residential treatment and the need to serve a community with few options for outpatient counseling.
Tomat said York Place has beds for 36 children in its residential treatment program, and anywhere from 12 to 20 of those beds are usually occupied. York Place also has two outpatient counseling centers, opened in 2012 — at the York campus and in Fort Mill.
“We have plenty of capacity,” Tomat said about the residential program. He also said the Charlotte center has “eyeballed South Carolina for quite some time in terms of expanding its programs, so we make a perfect platform for a number of their programs.”
Tomat said Thompson has more than 300 employees and an annual budget of between $17 million and $18 million, while York Place has about 70 employees and contract workers and a $5 million annual budget.
He said Thompson has about 46 beds in residential treatment. It also offers outpatient treatment, foster care, in-school therapy care, a child development center and an intensive in-home pgoram.
“They have built themselves a nice continuum, so they can serve children wherever they are in the spectrum,” said Tomat, who worked in North Carolina for five years before coming to York Place.
Tomat said the merger makes sense “as the market shifts in both states to allow for more, better and innovative community-based programming. South Carolina, in my opinion, can use soe of the novel approaches that Thompson does when it comes to community services.”
He said the planned merger will allow York Place to grow and expand treatment programs based on services already offered at the Charlotte center. “It makes a lot more sense not to reinvent the wheel,” Tomat said. “Now we have a platform to build those programs in South Carolina.”