A Brief History of First Step Services LLC

Raleigh Facility

First Step was originated by Henry Tarkington in 2001, in Garner, NC as a single-therapist practice, as “Henry Tarkington, MSW”. In early 2002, “1st Step Substance Abuse & DWI Services,” the company’s first agency name, became a fully licensed outpatient, intensive outpatient and DWI substance abuse treatment program. At the time, First Step was a part-time program, open only in the evenings and on weekends. Henry had a day job to pay the bills. He kept the day job for 2+ years as he worked First Step in the evenings and on weekends.

In October 2002, First Step opened our first Raleigh office on Millbrook Road and quickly outgrew that space. In May 2003, the company moved to Beechleaf Ct. off Highwoods Blvd.  By August 2003, First Step outgrew that location as well and moved into one small suite at 211 E. Six Forks Road, Raleigh. The main office has remained at this location since that time. Our Raleigh Six Forks Road facility now occupies 7,000 sq.ft., in Building B at 211 E. Six Forks Road. On June 10, 2003, the name of the company officially became First Step Services, LLC, a reflection of our commitment and desire to provide a broader array of valuable services to those with substance use and mental health concerns.

On September 1, 2003 Henry quit the day job and dedicated his career full time to First Step Services, LLC with the goal of helping people end their problems with substance use. In 2004, Henry hired the first full time employees at First Step and the program has grown steadily since that time. On July 1, 2006 First Step absorbed another behavioral health company and added a Durham facility in addition to our existing Raleigh and Garner locations. Today the Durham program is merged with our Cary program at 128 Quade Drive.

The year 2006 was a major growth year for First Step. In 2006, First Step became an approved vendor by Wake County Public Schools to provide services to teens and their families involved in the school system. We gained two significant Federal Department of Justice contracts.  In 2006, First Step applied for, and received the highest level of licensure for outpatient Behavioral Health awarded by the NC DHHS. We received a Substance Abuse Comprehensive Outpatient Treatment Center License. We have an M.D. Medical Director and Psychiatrist. First Step became paneled by Cigna, Magellan & BCBSNC insurance companies as an in-network provider.

In 2010, First Step completed the rigorous process of becoming fully accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, better known as CARF. For many programs, this is a required accreditation, allowing programs to receive State/County/LME and Medicaid funding. First Step does not receive these types of government funding, therefore accreditation is not required for First Step. However, in our ever-present desire to provide only the highest quality substance abuse & mental health services, First Step completed the CARF accreditation process. First Step Services, LLC was awarded the highest level of CARF Accreditation based on quality of services provided and who we are in the community. Since we do not accept typical government funding, we must earn our living by providing the best services possible to each individual who walks in our door. Our services do not cost taxpayers any money; in fact, we save taxpayers many thousands of dollars annually.

In 2012, First Step entered into an Employee Ownership Program, awarding units of ownership to the most dedicated employees. It is Henry’s philosophy and plan to award the most dedicated, loyal and committed employees with a long term commitment from the Company.  This allows a succession plan in the event something happens to Henry and gives employees a stake in the company. We want First Step to provide the best services available for many years to come.

In 2013, First Step expanded into a fourth facility at 128 Quade DriveCary, NC, providing substance abuse outpatient services to both adults and adolescents. In late 2014, First Step moved into a new, more up to date Garner facility at 1418 Aversboro Road, Suite 201. Both Garner & Cary are NC DHHS Licensed, CARF Accredited and in-network with health insurance companies.

In 2018, due to the success of our Cary program, we merged our Durham services into our Cary location. We concentrate our efforts to providing services to everyone in the Research Triangle area, including Durham, Raleigh, Cary and Garner.

Our counselors are among the best trained, most compassionate clinicians in the area.  Our therapists are a mix of Masters Level therapists with LCSW, LPC & LCAS credentials, Psychiatrist/M.D.,  Certified Substance Abuse Counselors and Certified Clinical Supervisors. All our facilities are in network with most all insurance companies that operate in the Triangle Region of North Carolina, saving our clients & patients money.

We provide high quality, client centered outpatient treatment & counseling services.. Read our Client Experiences page. These are unedited, unfiltered…every one we receive is in the client’s own words.

We are all very grateful to be able to work with so many wonderful clients, patients, families, attorneys, schools, treatment centers, doctors, therapists, probation officers, EAPs, corporations…I could go on & on. We thank you all!

Henry Tarkington, MSW, LCSW, LCAS, CCS
Staff at First Step Services, LLC

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