About Safe Harbor

The Safe Harbor Family Care Center at Jenkins Institute is starting a new program for mothers suffering from substance use disorder. The center allows women and their children to live in a stable, safe environment while addressing the mother's addiction and providing counseling for other life skills.

The criteria for admission includes the following:

A referral from the S.C. Department of Social Services.

Being age 18 or older or be an "emanicipated minor."

Having substance abuse disorder, and children, from newborns to age 12, that are in foster care or that the mother is willing to place in foster care.

A commitment to remain in the program for up to six months.

For more info: Call (843)722-0100 or email sdonaldson@charlestoncounty.org.

Mothers struggling with substance abuse can now get help without leaving their children through a new program at Jenkins Institute in North Charleston.

Agencies collaborating in the program will announce Friday the opening of the Safe Harbor Family Care Center at Jenkins Institute in North Charleston.

The center aims to provide women and their children with a stable, safe environment to live in while addressing substance abuse along with learning coping and parenting skills, being counseled for trauma, domestic violence education, receiving vocational training and other counseling, as necessary.

"This program is meant to build family capacity, safety and recovery," said Steve Donaldson, treatment director at The Charleston Center, or the Charleston County Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, who helped develop Safe Harbor.

"This is needed so that the family can have treatment together," said Donaldson, adding that the program's capacity is up to six families at one time.

Donaldson said that allowing a family to work on their issues as a family often provides "more optimal outcomes."

"It is best for them to go through this process together," Donaldson said. "Most importantly, it is helpful to the child not to be traumatized and re-traumatized by separating them from their mother and or siblings, then placed again in another home, until finally it is a good fit."

The program is a collaboration of Jenkins and four agencies, including The Charleston Center, S.C. Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, S.C. Department of Social Services and S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department.

The criteria for admission includes the following: a referral from the S.C. Department of Social Services; being age 18 or older or be an "emancipated minor"; having substance abuse disorder, and children, from newborns to age 12, that are in foster care or that the mother is willing to place in foster; and a commitment to be in the program for up to six months.

Donaldson said that mothers can leave voluntarily but are asked to give a 15-day notice to allow for DSS review of the progress of the resident to see if the children can go with her, or to make alternative placement for the children if the mother is not deemed appropriate to have custody at the time of departure.

Officials say Safe Harbor will fill an important void in the recovery community.

"Mothers struggling with addiction can receive treatment for themselves and their children, while keeping the family together," said Dr. June Murray, director of Jenkins Institute. "This paves the way for a stronger recovery and future for the entire family,"

Murray noted that the service falls in line with a place "with historic significance to individual well-being."

Jenkins was originally founded as Jenkins Orphanage by the Rev. Daniel Joseph Jenkins in 1891. In the 1930s, the orphanage was renamed the Daniel Joseph Jenkins Institute for Children, whose mission remains "to promote and support the social and economic well-being of children, families and individuals to enable them to become productive and self-sufficient in their communities."

The Safe Harbor program started as a vision of Columbia-based child advocate Naomi Torfin who realized that children want to be with their mothers, even if the mother needed help to be the best parent possible, according to Donaldson.

"Naomi wanted to reduce child trauma and re-traumatization by advocating for children services, substance abuse services, and vocational services working systemically to beguiled family capacity, and work as a team," Donaldson said.

"The host sites, such as Jenkins, were sought out because orphanages are not what they used to be, and occupancy on former orphanage sites were viewed to have good potential to want to be a part of the programs."

Reach David Quick at 937-5516.