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The History of Smoky Mountain Children's Home

December 17, 1920

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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.

A time of growth

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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. Alumni who return to the campus after having grown up at the Children's Home often share that the care and love that they were given as a child made a tremendous difference in their lives.

Spring of 1949

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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 at Smoky Mountain Children's Home

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We provide exceptional care for at-risk children and teens through our Residential 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 resident's need. Creating a safe and supportive environment allows residents to discover their talents and build on their strengths.  This is accomplished by the excellent care of a trained staff and provides each resident the opportunity to overcome the circumstances of their past, while exploring a world of opportunity for their future.

Future for Smoky Mountain Children's Home

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The next few years could very well become the greatest days the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home has ever experienced. It is our aim to transition our organization from "good to great!"  Excellence is our daily mantra, for which we strive.  We believe we are, in fact, poised for greatness based on sound financial planning, a strong core staff and a desire to become the very best childcare provider in the state of Tennessee.  Our staff are willing to go the first, second and third mile to care for the children in our continuum, which we feel are here because of God’s divine will for their lives.

We cannot wait to see what is around the next corner. It is evident that God’s favor is upon us in this special place.  As we have proclaimed throughout this year, according to Nehemiah 2:18, “The Good Hand of God is Upon Us!”

The best is yet to come!