From an Orphanage to a Children's Home
ON DECEMBER 17, 1920, four young children were placed in a small frame house in Cleveland, Tennessee, in the care of Lillian Kinsey. This home was eventually named Orphanage Number One and thus was born the Church of God's ministry to homeless children. From the humble beginning, the number of children in care quickly increased. Two more homes were added and eventually a large facility capable of housing several hundred children was constructed on 119 acres of land south of Cleveland. Officially known as the Church of God Orphanage, its mission was to provide shelter mostly for homeless and orphaned children. Poverty, illness, and death of one or both parents were the primary reasons children needed care.
In time, the needs of children began to change and the phrase orphans of the living began to be used to describe the plight of children. While some children continued to need care because of death, illness, and poverty of parents, many were victims of neglect and abuse.
In 1949, the orphanage relocated to Sevierville, Tennessee, on property formerly occupied by the Church of God Bible Training School. As the needs of children in placement changed, the structure of care also changed. Foster family care and residential treatment centers replaced the large, institutional program of care. In 1962, the name of the Home was officially changed to Church of God Home for Children. That same year social work and counseling services were added to more effectively address the needs of the children in care. A short time later, modern, cottage-type dwellings replaced the large dormitories. The next couple of decades saw even more changes with emphasis on specialized care for abused and emotionally disturbed children. Intensive training for the primary care givers was begun to better prepare them for the needs of children coming into care.
Today, the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home provides care for at risk children and teens through its Residential Care and Foster Care programs. Through family counseling, individual therapy, educational opportunities and structured group living the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home provides a continuum of care tailored for each residents need. Creating a safe and supportive environment for each resident to discover their talents, build on their strengths and through the care of a trained staff each resident has the opportunity to overcome the circumstances of their past while exploring a world of opportunity for their future.