The site of Thorndale House has served multiple functions relating to the care of women, children and families. These functions have been known under many different titles.
Upon opening in 1920, Thorndale's aim was to serve 'the unmarried mother and her child, the woman ''who has lost her way,'' and the little waif girlie who was left despite her tender years to manage as best she may'. In 1923 the work of Wellington Park House Industrial Home was transferred to Thorndale. Combining a Receiving and Industrial Home; a Home for Mothers and Infants; and a Hostel, Thorndale continued to provide a combination of 'training', maternity services and shelter for women from the early 1920s until the early 1980s.
From approximately 1947-1949 Thorndale incorporated a Girls' Training Home for teenagers; this work replaced that of the outdated Industrial Home. At this time Thorndale also ceased being known as a Hostel/Shelter. After 1949 Thorndale continued to serve as a Maternity Home; it also incorporated a second function as a short-stay Hostel for Mothers with Children. In 1951 Thorndale resumed its 'training' function when a new wing was added to the site to house mothers who had been summoned to court for neglect of their children. Their attendance at Thorndale was an alternative to a prison sentence. The work of the Centre for Mothers with Children continued until 1982. From 1978/1979-1982 Thorndale also served as a Children's Home. This work ceased in September 1982; this was due to the 'current policy' of fostering children and the location of Thorndale.
During 1983-1985 Thorndale underwent a period of transition; options were debated regarding the future use of the site and that of Mayflower (another Belfast 'training' centre for mothers). In May 1984 the work of Mayflower and Thorndale was merged under a single administration with the name of Thorndale Centre.
Since 1986 Thorndale has served as a residential Centre for Families with an emphasis on short-term and training work. At present (August 2013) Thorndale is a Parenting Assessment / Family Centre; it has 20 family units with a maximum accommodation for 77 residents.