Grandfather, Barium Springs homes for children to merge

Article Published: Mar. 6 | Modified: Mar. 6
Grandfather, Barium Springs homes for children to merge

From left, Barium Springs Home for Children CEO John Koppelmeyer and Homes for Children board chair Bill Wasulko shake hands on a merger that combines Barium Springs and Grandfather Home for Children into one entity.

Photo submitted

Two of North Carolina’s oldest and most respected child welfare agencies, Grandfather Home for Children and Barium Springs Home for Children, will merge effective April 1 to better serve the state’s most at-risk children and their families, as the provision and funding of their care undergo unprecedented change.

For many years, Grandfather Home for Children has operated as a subsidiary of an umbrella organization, called Homes for Children. After the merger, Barium Springs Home for Children will become another subsidiary of Homes for Children. The parent company, Homes for Children, will have a board of directors equally represented by Barium Springs and Grandfather Home for Children.

By combining assets, the two agencies will become one of the largest child welfare providers in North Carolina, with a projected operating budget of $35 million and more than 360 employees and 350 foster families who serve some 3,500 children in 63 counties.

Grandfather Home is based in Banner Elk and has five offices in Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Waynesville and Winston-Salem. Barium Springs, based in Statesville, has 13 offices across central and Western North Carolina. Core services for both agencies are adoption, foster care and comprehensive treatment for traumatized or neglected children delivered in residential, outpatient and in-home settings.

According to a spokesperson for Grandfather Home, both Barium Springs and Grandfather Home already have closely aligned missions, and their leaders believe the merger will enhance and expand the scope of services, provide a larger operating footprint and continuum of care and deliver operational efficiencies.

“These two great organizations share strong commitments to helping at risk children and families and an affinity to provide the highest quality services,” said John Koppelmeyer, chief executive officer of Barium Springs who will become chief executive officer of the merged entity. “Joining them will maximize our resources in a way that enables us to serve more of our fellow citizens in need. Each agency has evolved to meet the increasingly complex needs of our most vulnerable children and families. With the ever-changing behavioral health environment, we must continue to seek innovative solutions that help us to provide needed services more efficiently and maintain stable, sustainable growth.”

Merger talks began more than six months ago, as both agencies considered major shifts in their field, said Bill Wasulko, board chair of Homes for Children. Ongoing pressure on state and federal budgets had resulted in a decrease of more than $90 million for child welfare services in North Carolina since 2010, he noted.

“While marking our 100th anniversary, we were celebrating a rich history of service, while looking to the future and how to sustain our faith-based mission and vision,” Wasulko said. “Bringing together two of the oldest and much admired child service providers in North Carolina just made sense.”

The merger joins two agencies that are complementary in their strengths, cultures and vision, their leaders said. Both were established as orphanages by the Presbyterian Church; Barium Springs in 1891 and Grandfather in 1914. With more than 100 years of service each, the two nonprofits share a long-time commitment to children and a significant place in North Carolina history — two important factors in the decision to retain their names, operating boards and original campuses.

“The future of our state depends on the foundation on which we raise our children to become healthy and flourishing citizens,” said Rhett Mabry, vice president of The Duke Endowment, a private foundation that has been a long-time supporter of Barium Springs and Grandfather Home. “I am proud of these two organizations and their ability to come together at a time when we need stable providers with more capacity to assist North Carolina’s children and families in crisis.”

For more information on Grandfather Home for Children, call (828) 898-5465, or visit For more on Barium Springs Home for Children, call (704) 872-4157, or visit

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