Epworth Children's Home

Epworth Children’s Home
2900 Millwood Ave
Columbia SC 29205



Program Characteristics
HOMEBUILDERS® provides intensive, in-home crisis intervention, counseling, and life-skills education for families who have children at imminent risk of placement in state-funded care. It is the oldest and best-documented Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) program in the United States. The goal is to prevent the unnecessary out-of-home placement of children through intensive, on-site intervention, and to teach families new problem-solving skills to prevent future crises.


The HOMEBUILDERS® program only accepts families referred by the state, in which one or more children are in imminent danger of being placed in foster, group, or institutional care.


HOMEBUILDERS® is also used for families whose children are being returned from out-of-home care. 

Populations Served

Intensive Family Preservation Service and Intensive Family Reunification Service are for families with children from birth to 17 years old, who meet the eligibility criteria described below:


  • Child Welfare
    HOMEBUILDERS® specialists work with high-risk families involved with the child protective services system. The goal of the program is to remove the risk of harm to the child instead of removing the child. The program gives families the chance to learn new behaviors and helps them make better choices for their children. Child safety is ensured through small caseloads, program intensity, and 24-hour a day service availability.


  • Juvenile Justice
    HOMEBUILDERS® also works with youth and their families to correct problems that contribute to delinquency, while allowing the youths to remain in the community. Staff help clients find the right school setting, attend classes regularly, adhere to curfews, comply with the court, participate in constructive activities with peers, and learn to manage anger and conflict without getting into trouble. Specialists also help parents learn to deal with the stress of raising an adolescent with behavioral and emotional challenges.
  • Mental Health
    Like child welfare, children’s mental health has been criticized for an over- reliance on out-of-home placement, and the failure to provide community-based crisis intervention services that work for the whole family. The strategic use of IFPS provides crisis intervention and skill building, involves the family in the child’s treatment, and broadens the continuum of care so that children are able to avoid the trauma and stigma of psychiatric hospitalization or residential treatment.

Eligibility Criteria

For Reunification:

  1. The child is in placement and will return home within 7 days of the start of services.
  2. It is an unusually complex situation (e.g. caregiver or child ambivalence, disrupted attachment, unresolved risk factors, legal issues, caregiver lacks understanding of child treatment needs, etc.).
  3. The referent believes less intensive reunification services will not suffice to address the reunification concerns.
  4. The referent has confirmed that the caregiver(s) will be available for an intake session within 24 hours of referral.
  5. The referent has described the intensity of HOMEBUILDERS to the family (40 hours of direct service over 4 to 6 weeks), and at least one caregiver in the home is available to participate.

1.If HOMEBUILDERS is not available, one of the following will occur:

  • Child(ren) will be placed in protective custody;
  • A court petition will be filed requesting placement;
  • A voluntary placement agreement will be initiated.

2. Maintaining the child in the home is not a temporary plan. The child is not on a waiting list or pending entry into group care, psychiatric care, or a juvenile justice institution.


3. The caregiver has been informed of the risk of placement.


4. The caregiver(s) will be available for intake within 24 hours of referral.


5. The referent has described the intensity of HOMEBUILDERS to the family (40 hours of direct service over 4 to 6 weeks).

Referral Process

  • The SCDSS county case manager will email referral information to the Epworth HOMEBUILDERS director in your area of the state and cc State Director Shannon Kerschen at skerschen@epworthsc.org.
  • Upon receiving a referral, Epworth will review and assess it for appropriateness.
  • Within 2-4 hours, an Epworth representative will contact the DSS case manager to gather information on the family required by the HOMEBUILDERS program.
  • The Epworth representative will email the county case manager to let him or her know whether the case meets eligibility criteria or not. If the referral is accepted, Epworth will start working on it and reach out to the family within 24 hours.

Pee Dee

Neva Bailey, Supervisor




Shannon Kerschen, Supervisor




Meredith Knotts, Supervisor 




Shannon Kerschen, Supervisor




Shannon Kerschen, State Director