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After World War II, Brunswick local, J. Ardell Nation, had a vision to create the “Boys’ Estate, GA.,” an orphanage for homeless boys. Mr. Nation obtained title to the land in 1946 and built a program modeled after the famous “Boy’s Town” of Nebraska. After many years of operation, Boys’ Estate changed its name to “Youth Estate” and began to accept girls as well as boys.

Postcard of Boys Estate, circa 1962.

Boys’ Estate chaplain, Mr. David Thrower, speaks to the boys in the James V. Carmichael Chapel. Our residential children have the option to attend weekly church services in this historic Chapel today.

Morningstar Children and Family Services, Inc. was established in 1996 with support from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and many churches from all over Georgia. Established on the site of the former Youth Estate, the campus was approved to serve up to 52 youth with developmental disabilities and intensive mental health needs.

In December 2017, Morningstar Children and Family Services’ Board of Directors appointed Beth VanDerbeck as Chief Executive Officer for the organization. Mrs. VanDerbeck brings many years of management and non-profit leadership experience to the organization.

Today, in addition to the Morningstar Youth Estate in Brunswick, Morningstar operates Community Counseling in Brunswick and Perry, Georgia. In 2019, Morningstar served 676 children and youth through our programs.

Morningstar present day.


Read Trees and Citizens of Boys Estate, an original poem written by J. Ardell Nation in 1947.

About Morningstar

Morningstar Children and Family Services was established in 1996. Today we have a team of over 100 staff members serving hundreds of children annually.

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Morningstar was established on the old Boys Estate Campus. This campus has served children for over 55 years.

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Leadership Team

Meet our senior leaders and board of directors.

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Thinking about a career change? We have opportunities available. Learn and grow with us.

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Morningstar has been a fully accredited agency under CARF since 2007.

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Organizational Reports

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