The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins

The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1-November 30. While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a “below-normal” season, it is critical for individuals, families and communities in areas vulnerable to storms to be prepared.

The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1-November 30. While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a “below-normal” season, it is critical for individuals, families and communities in areas vulnerable to storms to be prepared.

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) specializes in emergency management, incident management, disaster medical response, mass care, medical sheltering and planning for vulnerable populations. When disaster strikes, our Incident Management Team can have boots on the ground anywhere in the U.S. within 48 hours. BCFS EMD personnel have responded to every major critical incident in the U.S. in the past 12 years, including several hurricanes, the 9/11 Terrorist Attack, the H1N1 flu pandemic and a number of tornados, fires, floods, hazardous material spills and earthquakes.

New Texas Hill Country Resource Center Rounding Into Comprehensive Community Center

Photo: Building under construction
March 2015
Photo: Unpainted finished building
May 2015

There’s no missing the almost 20,000-square-foot, two-story building taking shape on the non-profit block of 1100 Main Street. In the last two months, the site has gone from lumber framing to a bonafide building structure. BCFS Health and Human Services’ new Texas Hill Country Resource Center, which is being built by Kerrville contractor JM Lowe, is on schedule to open its doors this Fall, and will house fellow Hill Country non-profit organizations such as: Art2Heart; Families & Literacy, Inc.; Big Brothers Big Sisters; Hill Country Ministries and New Hope Counseling.

In the new center, Hill Country residents will have “one stop” access to:
  • counseling
  • case management
  • emergency housing assistance for young adults
  • life skills training
  • literacy training
  • educational support
  • connections to employment and educational opportunities
  • mentoring
  • parenting classes
  • arts and drama for children, and
  • Christian encouragement through Bible study and prayer
The shared-space concept instills greater access and accountability for the children, youth and families helped by the center, while also ensuring non-duplication of services and leveraging of talents and resources. All nonprofits will share training rooms, state-of-the-art communications technology, a conference room, computer lab and other common areas. Space is still available for other non-profit agencies. Organizations interested in leasing opportunities at the center should contact Sue Tiemann with Commercial Realty Services: (830) 792-5775.
“With the combined power of BCFS and our partners, this center is going to be the most robust site for care and compassion for children, young adults and families throughout the Hill Country,” says Brenda Thompson, BCFS’ local director.
Fundraising is ongoing to furnish the facility. Naming rights are available for spaces throughout the center, beginning at $1,200.
“Sponsoring one of the spaces in our center is not just a great way to help a child or family in need today, but also an incredible opportunity to permanently honor or memorialize someone you love,” says Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie, BCFS Development Officer.
To support the work at BCFS’ Texas Hill Country Resource Center or to learn more about working in the new facility, contact Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie at (830) 928-9387.

Registration Information for Comfort ISD Head Start

BCFS Education Services is proud to announce a new partnership between Comfort Independent School District and our Head Start program. Beginning in August 2015, we will hold full day Head Start classes on the Comfort Elementary School campus, and will follow the school’s calendar. There will be 40 Head Start spots open in Comfort, available to families that live in the Comfort school district.
Families will need to visit Comfort Elementary School to register their students for Head Start. Below is information about upcoming “Registration Round-Ups.” If you are unable to attend these registration events, you may also apply at Comfort Elementary School during school hours.
Comfort ISD Registration Round-Up Events:
May 17, 2015 1pm – 3pm
June 7, 2015 1pm – 3pm
Comfort Elementary School
605 3rd Street, Comfort, Texas 78013
(830) 995-6410
Four-year-old students will be given priority for registration, however we still encourage families with younger children to apply, as the remaining spaces will be filled by eligible 3-year-olds.
BCFS Education Services is very excited about this partnership and confident this will be a great benefit to our Comfort students. Children will attend Head Start classes in the same building that will eventually be their kindergarten classrooms, making them more comfortable with their environment and ready to learn!
Questions? Please contact our office at (830) 331-8908.

BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center Receives Nearly $9,000 from Local Organizations

Community Partners of Lubbock, the Lubbock Area Foundation and the Junior League of Lubbock have together awarded nearly $9,000 to BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center for special programs that celebrate academic achievement and positive decision making by youth and young adults served at the center.Community Partners of Lubbock has pledged $4,750 in support of the center’s annual “Hope Chest” event, which honors local youth in foster care who are graduating from high school and college. After a celebratory luncheon, graduates receive Target gift cards and head out with transition center staff and volunteers for a shopping trip where youth purchase household items for their new dorm rooms or apartments.

The Lubbock Area Foundation granted the center $2,950 for emergency funds as well as support for the “Court Improvement Project,” a partnership with Judge Kevin Hart, Judge Kara Darnell and the South Plains Foster Care Court that boosts youth attendance and participation in their foster care court hearings. Through the project, court hearings are held in the less-intimidating, more-relaxed atmosphere of the transition center. Since the program started, attendance and participation has increased significantly, and youth report being more satisfied with the outcomes and creative collaboration with case workers and family members.

This is the second grant from the Foundation in support of the Court Improvement Project.

The Junior League of Lubbock awarded $1,200 to BCFS to support its monthly “Alumni Nights” at the Lubbock Transition Center. Alumni nights invite young adults who have aged out of foster care to the center for dinner, fellowship and an opportunity to share big news, such as new jobs, graduation or the birth of a child.

“We are extremely honored and thankful to receive these grant awards,” said Kami Jackson, BCFS Lubbock Transition Center director. “Community Partners of Lubbock, the Lubbock Area Foundation and Junior League all work to invest in the future of our community, and their recognition of the center shows that they believe in the good work we do for Lubbock’s youth.”

BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center provides services for youth in, and aging out of, the foster care system and those at risk of homelessness and other challenges. The center provides youth with case management, counseling, and assistance with education, employment and housing. Many of the youth served by the center spent time in foster care or the juvenile justice system. Other young adults make the center their “home away from home” to have a safe place to study after school, and mentors to keep them on the right path.

The Whole Community is Needed for Mental Health Recovery

May is “National Mental Health Awareness Month”

Jessica was ten years old when she realized her mother was in danger. Whether across the dinner table, down the hallway, or in her parents’ bedroom, she would watch in stunned silence as her father launched into verbal and, oftentimes, physical attacks on her mom. Then, she’d run into her little brother’s room where she could lock the door and hold her hands over his ears to try to muffle the screams. When the police finally came to arrest her father, she ran again; this time away from the social worker sent to retrieve Jessica and her brother, and place them in a new home.
Traumatic events affect people differently. For children especially, encounters with abuse or neglect can have a profound influence that, if unchecked, can adversely affect their mental health and relationships with others for the rest of their lives. In fact, according to Child Advocates of San Antonio, children in foster care experience mental illness at a rate of almost 30 percent greater than the average population of children. Additionally, youth in foster care are less likely to receive adequate treatment and services to address their mental health issues.
Counselors and caseworkers are not only the triage team, but also part of the recovery. These professionals play a crucial role in going beyond meeting children’s basic needs, delving into complex issues that can range from violent learned behavior, to substance abuse or even severe psychiatric issues, like post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression.
Trauma-informed care is today’s gold standard for working with youth in foster care. This methodology helps youth identify and articulate how past and present issues are affecting them. A safe environment, trusting rapport and careful listening helps counselors and caseworkers recognize mental illness and take quick action to address feelings that could prevent a youth from achieving success in school or at work, or trauma that could lead a youth to harm themselves.
Of course there’s no magic blueprint for identifying and overcoming mental illness. While counselors and caseworkers are the triage team, the entire community needs to be part of the recovery.
As May marks both “National Foster Care Month” and “National Mental Health Awareness Month,” BCFS Health and Human Services encourages all those in our community to be more attentive and sensitive to children whose misbehavior or strange actions may in fact be outcries from trauma. Connect children and families to organizations where they can get professional mental health support.
Together, we can improve the wellness of our entire community and prevent more innocent children like Jessica from suffering from mental health issues.
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BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. At BCFS transition centers, local youth in and aging out of foster care and those at risk of homelessness, poverty or other challenges have ”one-stop” access to case management, counseling, mentoring, educational opportunities, employment connections, housing location and legal service – all free of charge. 

Formal programs focus on equipping young adults with “real life” knowledge and skills, such as interviewing for a job, balancing a checkbook, healthy decision making, choosing a career path, teen pregnancy prevention and the consequences of being sexually active. 

BCFS Names Victoria Perez Director of Community Based Services – Corpus Christi

BCFS Health and Human Services has named Victoria Perez as Director of Community Based Services – Corpus Christi. In this role, Perez will oversee all programs administered through the organization’s Corpus Christi Transition Center, which provides resources and services for youth in and aging out of foster care and others who need assistance transitioning into “life on their own,” as well as families.
Perez joins BCFS with more than 20 years of managerial experience in the health and human services field. Throughout her career, Perez has served in several roles, overseeing and delivering important services to those in need, while also meeting and exceeding rigorous regulatory and professional standards.
Perez has been recognized by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for her contributions in the care of offenders with medical or mental impairments, and by Texas Christian University for her work in HIV research. She holds a master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance from Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and is working toward a doctorate degree in Educational Psychology.
“Victoria is a compassionate and dedicated leader who knows what ‘right’ looks like,” said Ben Delgado, BCFS Executive Vice President – Community and International Operations. “Her energy and expertise are going to be key assets as we look to not only strengthen, but expand our services and partnerships in Corpus Christi.”
BCFS’ Corpus Christi Transition Center provides resources and services to youth between the ages of 14-26, with the aim of growing their skills and knowledge, strengthening self-confidence, creating healthy community relationships and learning positive self-guidance. Most of the youth served by the center have spent time in the foster care or juvenile justice system, or have battled issues like homelessness, substance abuse or truancy.
The center also offers parent education programs that show families how to resolve conflict and improve communication; improve children’s behavioral problems; as well as deal with complicated issues like strong emotions, aggression, alcohol and violence. Parents who participate in the program may receive other valuable services including free childcare, transportation assistance, and help receiving essentials like food, baby items and clothing.

BCFS Celebrates “National Foster Care Month”

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Lifts Up Youth in Foster Care

May is “National Foster Care Month”

According to the Center for Public Policy Priorities and Kids Count Data Center, in 2014 there were more than 30,000 children in Texas’ foster care system. The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work’s Child and Family Research Institute has shown that foster youth, statistically, have poor educational outcomes, are less likely to finish high school, go to college or hold stable employment.
As the nation marks May as “National Foster Care Month,” BCFS Health and Human Services works daily to help young adults and youth in foster care grow toward independent adulthood and self-sufficiency.
At BCFS’ transition centers throughout Texas, local youth in and aging out of foster care and those at risk of homelessness, poverty or other challenges have ”one-stop” access to case management, counseling, mentoring, educational opportunities, employment connections, housing location and legal service – all free of charge.
Formal programs focus on equipping young adults with “real life” knowledge and skills, such as interviewing for a job, balancing a checkbook, healthy decision making, choosing a career path, teen pregnancy prevention and the consequences of being sexually active. The organization focuses on offering a support system to youth in foster care that helps them grow into healthy, productive adults.
“These young people are in our community, and some have endured serious tragedies and challenges through no fault of their own,” say center directors. “Our mission is to help youth learn responsibility, seek and find opportunities and, ultimately, create a healthy, loving environment for themselves, their families and our larger community.
“What we offer at the center teaches them that everyone is important, and everyone can make a positive difference.”
BCFS also offers foster care services that connect youth with safe and loving foster homes. Adults who would like information about becoming a foster parent can call (210) 208-5629 or visit DiscoverBCFS.net/FosterCare.
For more information about the BCFS’ transition centers, their programs or how to help, visit DiscoverBCFS.net.

BCFS Receives National Contract to Deploy Case Management Teams During Disasters

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division receives national contract to deploy case management teams to disaster-affected states, tribes and territories

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) was contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response (OHSEPR) to provide immediate disaster case management services to any state, tribe, and territories in the U.S. affected by a natural or man-made disaster – like a hurricane, earthquake, terrorist attack or hazardous materials incident.
BCFS EMD will develop a national turnkey capability to rapidly deploy teams to provide immediate disaster case management services as tasked by ACF. If a disaster strikes, a team of trained disaster case managers and emergency responders can be deployed to the disaster site within 72-hours to begin meeting the needs of survivors and those impacted by the disaster. ACF deploys its Immediate Disaster Case Management Program when activated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). ACF IDCM is one alternative available to FEMA for the Federal Disaster Case Management Program.
The BCFS Disaster Case Management Team (DCMT) will include case managers, community coordination specialists, logistics specialists, database specialists, and financial coordinators. Teams will be totally self-sufficient and supported by the EMD Incident Management Team (IMT) with full operational, logistical and planning capability. The BCFS teams will provide staffing for ACF’s IDCM missions as directed by OHSEPR.
The DCMT will identify survivors’ most critical needs including food, clothing, shelter, medical care, immediate mental health needs; and secondary needs including child care, temporary housing, financial aid, prescriptions, transportation, utilities, and physical safety and security.
“We believe the effective development of deployable disaster case management resources by the federal government fills a critical role in national preparedness and recovery,” says Kari Tatro, BCFS’ Executive Vice President for Emergency Management Operations. “We are positioned to support the development of a truly unique, national infrastructure that is reflective of our existing deployment model for IMT and Disaster Medical Staffing Teams (DMST).”
BCFS EMD is highly experienced in deploying hundreds of staff for extended periods of response and recovery. Currently BCFS EMD maintains multiple deployable teams with various disciplines, including over 350 case managers, an all-hazards IMT and DMSTs.
The one-year contract includes four optional annual renewal years by OHSEPR.
BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations that operates over 74 different programs on a daily basis, covering a range of health and human services.
“Our organizational capacity in residential, community-based and emergency management services allows us to leverage the expertise and resources of our divisions during catastrophic incidents,” says Thelma Gutierrez, BCFS EMD Program Manager.
BCFS has extensive experience with emergency operations’ coordination and plan development through numerous responses to incidents, including the Branch Davidian Incident; Southeast Asia Tsunami; Hurricanes Emily, Katrina, Rita, Dean, Dolly, Gustav, Ike and Alex; Haiti Earthquake; Eagle Pass Tornado; FLDS Event; Texas Wildfire Response; and H1N1 Flu.
In 2012 and again in 2014, BCFS was tasked by ACF’s Office of Refugee Resettlement with providing turn-key emergency sheltering, including disaster case management services, to thousands of youth when an unprecedented number of unaccompanied, undocumented youth entered the United States. BCFS Health and Human Services provided comprehensive services – including case management, educational, medical, and recreation – for several thousand children.
BCFS HHS has remained at the forefront of every major disaster affecting Texas since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when BCFS HHS, at the request of the State of Texas, sheltered over 1,700 medical evacuees for approximately 8 weeks.
BCFS Health and Human Services has become a trusted partner of local, state and national organizations to provide comprehensive planning, management and response for disasters. For more information about BCFS’ Emergency Management Division, visit www.BCFSEMD.org.

April is “National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month”

BCFS Health and Human Services’ San Antonio Transition Center Programs Aim to End Child Abuse

According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, last year more than 66,000 children in Texas were victims of abuse or neglect, and more than 17,000 were removed from their homes for their own protection. As the nation marks April as “National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month,” local BCFS Health and Human Services parenting education programs work to prevent child abuse year-round.

Every year, more than 2,000 families participate in parenting education programs, support groups and counseling at the BCFS San Antonio Transition Center. During a typical weekly family workshop, parents and caregivers are taught how to resolve stress, discipline children in a healthy way, and receive help accessing community resources. Classes include hands-on activities focused on positive parent-child communication, and intimate group discussions that help parents reaffirm their strengths and gain confidence. Free counseling is also offered to families in Spanish and English that includes a child abuse prevention training and crisis intervention.

Miriam Attra, BCFS Director of Community Based Services for San Antonio, believes educating parents is the key to stopping cycles of child abuse. “Oftentimes, parents in high-risk households treat their children the way their parents treated them, in some cases not knowing it’s actually abusive behavior,” says Attra. “But when we teach parents how to respond in difficult situations—like how to calm a toddler’s tantrum or bond with an impulsive teenager—they’re less likely to fall back on old, unhealthy habits.”

Parenting education and support groups are offered through Precious Minds New Connections, funded by the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, and Texas Families Together and Safe, funded by Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Counseling and crisis intervention is provided through the Services To At Risk Youth program.

To connect directly with San Antonio families during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, BCFS participated in Fiesta de los Niños on April 18th, the official Fiesta event for children. Fiesta de los Niños featured a parade through Port San Antonio, games, rides and musical performances. Parent educators with BCFS’ child abuse prevention programs joined in the fun, parading down the street in true Fiesta fashion sporting hats they decorated themselves. BCFS’ parent educators will also attend the United Way Kids’ festival on April 25th.

Program Director Whitney Vela says joining Fiesta events is one way BCFS invites local families to participate in parent support groups. “When parents and caregivers come together at our support groups, they’re reminded that they’re not alone,” says Vela. “They can lean on BCFS and a network of other parents to learn how to create a safe and loving home environment. It really does ‘take a village,’ as they say, and BCFS works to build villages around folks that need support.”

In addition to parenting education, the BCFS San Antonio Transition Center serves youth in foster care and young adults struggling to transition to adulthood by providing case management, counseling, mentorships, and assistance with education, employment and housing location.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services urges community members to report suspected child abuse by calling 1-800-252-5400. Signs of abuse include unexplained injuries, aggressive or withdrawn behavior, a child’s fear of seeing their parents, and malnourishment.

For more information about BCFS’ San Antonio Transition Center and child abuse prevention, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/SanAntonio or call (210) 733-7932.

Brenda Thompson joins BCFS in Kerrville

BCFS Health and Human Services taps Thompson as Director of Community Based Services in Kerrville

KERRVILLE — BCFS Health and Human Services has named Brenda Thompson the new Director of Community Based Services at the BCFS Kerrville Transition Center. In this role, Thompson will oversee all programs operated at the BCFS Kerrville Transition Center, and will be at the helm when the new BCFS Texas Hill Country Resource Center opens later this year.

In her new role, Thompson will oversee all BCFS programs in Kerrville, manage the new center’s key projects, actively engage in community education and outreach and be responsible for all BCFS operations in Kerrville.

Thompson joins BCFS having previously served as CEO of the Kerr County YMCA and Executive Director of the Kerr County Day Care Center. Over her 18-year career in social services, Thompson secured $2 million in grants, initiated the merger of the Kerr County Day Care Center and the Kerr County YMCA, and operated programs that served thousands of families across the Hill Country.

“Retirement was short lived for me,” says Thompson. “When the opportunity with BCFS presented itself, I knew I needed to be a part of bringing a new nonprofit resource center to Kerrville that would help so many people in our community. My passion is working with youth and families so I am thrilled to be a part of BCFS and the many programs that they offer people in our area.”

BCFS Development Officer and Kerrville-native Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie is excited to welcome Thompson to the team. “Brenda and I worked together for years in local non-profits before joining BCFS, so I have seen first-hand how passionate she is about helping people. She’ll be a valuable asset to BCFS,” said Maxwell-Rambie.

“Brenda joins the BCFS team with a wealth of experience under her belt serving folks in Kerrville,” says Ben Delgado, BCFS Executive Vice President-Community and International Operations. “She is highly respected and well-known in the community because she has served here for nearly 20 years. We are honored that she’ll become the face of BCFS in the Hill Country.”

Construction is currently underway on the nearly 20,000 square-foot BCFS Texas Hill Country Resource Center. The new building will house several social service agencies and be the centerpiece of the non-profit block on Main Street. According to Maxwell-Rambie, the shared-space model emphasizes accountability in the youth and families it serves, ensures services are unduplicated, and promotes efficiency through the leveraging of shared talents and resources.

In the new center, BCFS will provide teens, young adults and families with counseling, case management, access to medical care, emergency housing assistance, life skills training, literacy training, educational support, and connections to employment and educational opportunities all under one roof.

To learn more about the BCFS Texas Hill Country Transition Center, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/Kerrville.

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BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.