“One Stop” Community Center Opens for Children and Families on the Westside

Senator Leticia Van de Putte and Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales were joined by children and families, business leaders and community supporters for the grand opening of BCFS Health and Human Services’ new Westside Community Center.
For more than seven years, BCFS Health and Human Services has led programs on the Westside aimed at getting children and students off the streets and away from gangs, while also boosting their success in school and connecting them with positive extracurricular activities. For many years, that outlet doubled as a hip, local coffee shop known as Guadalupe Street Coffee. Now, thanks to the availability of a larger space across the street and a restaurant partner that was able to take over café operations, BCFS Health and Human Services has reopened its doors as a comprehensive, “one stop” community center.
The organization’s move allows it to expand its programming and collaboration with several community partners, including Youth for Christ, Life Restored, Urban Connection, Roll Models, Lanier High School, Rhodes Technology Media Charter School, City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health, The Texas Hunger Project, and more. The center will now be a “one stop shop” for local children and families, providing everything from parenting classes and mentoring, to community garden activities! It will also offer space to community organizations and businesses – at no charge – so they can hold meetings, team building exercises, and other activities that support business success and growth on the Westside.
“For seven years, BCFS Health and Human Services has been proud to be part of the heartbeat of the revitalization of the Westside,” said Krista Piferrer, Executive Vice President of External Affairs. “Together with our many partners and neighbors, we are making the Westside a safer, healthier and more prosperous place for families to live, work and raise their families.”

Rapp Named BCFS EVP – Labor and Employment Law

In this role, Rapp will provide advice and guidance to management regarding labor and employment law issues, as well as represent BCFS and its controlled entities in judicial and administrative proceedings and arbitrations and mediations.

Global health and human service system, BCFS, has named Robert A. Rapp as executive vice president – labor and employment law. This is a new position developed as a result of BCFS’ significant growth nationwide. In this role, Rapp will provide advice and guidance to management regarding labor and employment law issues, as well as represent BCFS and its controlled entities in judicial and administrative proceedings and arbitrations and mediations.
“Bob’s tenacity, expertise and counsel will be greatly beneficial as BCFS continues to expand our footprint throughout Texas and across the nation,” said Kevin C. Dinnin, BCFS President & CEO.
Rapp has more than 35 years’ experience in labor and employment law and litigation. He has been listed in “Best Lawyers in America” for the past decade, and has been named a “Texas Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthly Magazine (which features the top 5% of attorneys in Texas) since 2005. He also has been recognized as one of the best labor and employment lawyers in San Antonio by San Antonio Magazine.
Rapp earned his undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard University and juris doctorate from Case Western Reserve University, where he was Associate Editor of the Law Review. He has the highest rating available from the Martindale-Hubbell peer review system, which is compiled from ratings submitted by lawyers and judges.

Dr. Dearing Garner Named Interim Executive Director of Children’s Emergency Relief International

Global health and human service non-profit system, BCFS, has named Dr. Dearing Garner as the interim executive director for its overseas operation, Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI). Current executive director Dr. Gary Huckabay is leaving the organization, and Garner will seamlessly resume this role

HOUSTON – Global health and human service non-profit system, BCFS, has named Dr. Dearing Garner as the interim executive director for its overseas operation, Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI). Current executive director Dr. Gary Huckabay is leaving the organization, and Garner will seamlessly resume this role. Garner has been involved with CERI since its founding in 1999, serving as executive director prior to Huckabay’s promotion and having continued serving the organization in a part-time role for the last year.

“Dearing is driven by an unparalleled passion and determination to bring Christ-like compassion to children in difficult circumstances throughout the world,” said Kevin C. Dinnin, chairman of the CERI Board of Directors. “I am grateful to have him return to this post as we search for a new visionary leader for CERI.”

“I am also thankful to Gary for his hard work and service, and wish him God’s best in future pursuits.”

Community Leaders Break Ground on New BCFS Transition Center

Kerrville’s civic and community leaders came together to celebrate the groundbreaking of Kerrville’s new youth transition center. The building, which is set to open in early 2015, will serve more than 4,000 children and families annually, house five non-profits, and be known as the BCFS Health and Human Services Hill Country Transition Center.

Transition center will be “one stop shop” for services that break cycles of poverty and foster self-sufficiency in young adults

Civic and community leaders – including Kerr County Judge Tom Pollard, County Commissioner Tom Moser, Mayor Jack Pratt, City Manager Todd Parton, City Councilmen Stacie Keeble and Carson Conklin, and Superintendent Dr. Dan Troxell – today came together to celebrate the groundbreaking of Kerrville’s new youth transition center. The building, which is set to open in early 2015, will serve more than 4,000 children and families annually, house five non-profits, and be known as the BCFS Health and Human Services Hill Country Transition Center.
The nearly 20,000 square foot center will be the centerpiece of the non-profit block located on Main Street. The land is being provided by the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country and JM Lowe & Company will construct the facility, which will be home to BCFS Health and Human Services, Partners in Ministry-Vision Youth, Families & Literacy, Inc., and Art2Heart.
The “one stop” service model that was first established by BCFS Health and Human Services in Kerrville in 2007 no longer exists due to program and partner growth, as well as a significant increase in demand for services. To reestablish the efficient and effective “one stop” model, The Cailloux Foundation set forth a $500,000 challenge grant to build a larger center. Several private foundations and individual philanthropists have also contributed to the capital campaign. Last month, BCFS – the parent company of BCFS Health and Human Services – announced an investment of up to $1.3 million to build the facility. BCFS Board of Trustees Chairman Bobby Feather said that gift was made in honor of Babs Baugh, who has served on the BCFS board for more than 25 years and was described as the organization’s “matriarch.”
BCFS Health and Human Services’ new Hill Country Transition Center will serve youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system, struggling families, and those facing other challenges impeding their success. The shared space model emphasizes accountability in the youth it serves; ensures non-duplication of existing services; and promotes efficiency through the leveraging of shared talents and resources. In the new center, teens, young adults and families will be able to receive 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.

BCFS Health and Human Services awarded grant to teach parenting skills with Fatherhood EFFECT

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services awarded BCFS Health and Human Services a five-year contract to lead a community-based parenting program geared toward improving the communication and parenting skills of fathers and male caregivers.

ABILENE/MCALLEN – The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services awarded BCFS Health and Human Services a five-year contract to lead a community-based parenting program geared toward improving the communication and parenting skills of fathers and male caregivers. The program, called Fatherhood EFFECT (Educating Fathers For Empowering Children Tomorrow), is expected to serve roughly 300 families annually in Cameron and Taylor counties.The Fatherhood EFFECT program will teach families how to resolve conflict, improve communication, deal with complex emotions, and overcome issues of aggression, alcohol and violence. BCFS Health and Human Services will use the “24/7 Dad” curriculum to lead the classes, which focuses on the characteristics of a good father like discipline and achieving a healthy work-family balance.

“Being a responsible parent involves making decisions in the best interest of your child. It also means learning from mistakes and making better choices in the future to ensure children feel safe and loved – no matter what,” said Terri Hipps, executive director of BCFS’ Community Services Division. “Strengthening communication and learning more about the perspectives of all members of a household are proven ways to mitigate abuse and build an unbreakable bond within a family.”
Families in Taylor or Cameron counties with children younger than 17 years old, who do not have an open CPS case or a previously substantiated case of abuse or neglect, are eligible to participate in the free program. Parents who participate in the six-week course will receive wraparound support services, including referrals to other community providers and assistance meeting their basic needs.
In Abilene and McAllen, BCFS Health and Human Services also operates transition centers that serve local youth aging out of foster care, those in the juvenile justice system, and others at risk of poverty, homelessness, substance abuse and other challenges, helping them transition successfully into adulthood and independence. In Abilene, the organization also operates Our House, a residential facility that provides transitional shelter for young men who are struggling with homelessness. In McAllen, BCFS HHS operates another parenting education course called Texas Families: Together and Safe.
For more information, families in Taylor County may call (325) 692-0033, those in Cameron County may call (956) 630-0010, or visit DiscoverBCFS.net/FatherhoodEFFECT.

 

BCFS Invests $1.3 Million in New Transition Center in Kerrville

Transition center will serve at-risk youth in efforts to break cycles of poverty and foster self-sufficiency

BCFS, a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations, has committed up to $1.3 million to complete the capital campaign for a new youth transition center in Kerrville. The building, which is set to open in early 2015, will serve more than 4,000 children and families annually, house five non-profits, and be known as the BCFS Health and Human Services Hill Country Transition Center.
BCFS President and CEO Kevin C. Dinnin announced the funds would be made available immediately for the construction of the new center. A ceremonial groundbreaking will take place in April.
“BCFS is proud to join many private foundations, businesses and individual philanthropists in supporting the establishment of this facility,” says BCFS CEO Kevin Dinnin. “Without question, this BCFS transition center will make a profound impact in the lives of children and young adults who are struggling. This will, in turn, raise the tide for the community as a whole, making Kerrville and surrounding areas a safe and prosperous place to call home.”
BCFS Health and Human Services, a subsidiary of BCFS,  established Kerrville’s youth transition center in 2007 as a “one stop shop” where youth in foster care or those who face the potential of homelessness could receive counseling, case management, access to medical care, emergency housing assistance, life skills training, literacy training, educational support, and connections to employment and educational opportunities. Through the years, demand for services at the center exploded beyond original projections, causing programs to have to relocate throughout the city; thereby negating the ease of “one stop” services.
Building a new transition center was fueled by a $500,000 challenge grant from the Cailloux Foundation.  The new center will be built by JM Lowe & Company on a site provided by the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country, and will also house Partners in Ministry-Vision Youth, Families & Literacy, Inc. and Art 2 Heart. Together, BCFS Health and Human Services and its partners will serve more than 4,000 youth, young adults and families annually.
“Supporting the Hill Country Transition Center has at least five-times the impact thanks to all the partners that will use this location to serve those in need,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS Health and Human Services’ Executive Director – Community Services Division. “By leveraging and maximizing our shared talents and resources, our new center will be able to serve more deserving youth and families through even more effective means.”

Court is Now in Session – at Lubbock Transition Center

LUBBOCK – The traditional courtroom environment can be stifling and overwhelming, with a robed judge looming overhead, an armed bailiff standing at-the-ready, and strict rules about when to speak and even how to dress. For youth in the foster care system, court hearings play a huge role in the progress of their case, from accessing the status of their education to taking stock of their quality of life in their foster home or shelter. Yet, many youth shy away from these hearings because it can be uncomfortable and nerve-wracking.

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Lubbock Transition Center, which serves youth in foster care and others experiencing challenging situations, teamed up with local Judge Kevin Hart to ensure that foster youth participate in these crucial hearings, feel truly heard, and receive all the support and services built into the foster care system.

Judge Hart was part of the core group of community partners brought in by BCFS Health and Human Services to help form the transition center in 2011. Shortly after the center opened, Judge Hart approached the federally-funded Court Improvement Project to see if they could hold court at the transition center rather than the courthouse so youth would feel comfortable enough to speak freely about their case. The novel idea was immediately embraced by BCFS Health and Human Services’ Director Kami Jackson, who says this was something no other organization in Texas was doing and had great potential to encourage youth in foster care to feel more in control of what was happening in their lives.

“When youth feel supported and comfortable, they’re more open to speak up if they are missing something, if they haven’t been able to visit their siblings, or if there’s something affecting their success in school or at home,” says Jackson. “We make sure the youth know about and prepare for their hearing. Obviously, attendance is key, so we even offer transportation to and from the center if necessary.”

At the courthouse, youth have to ask permission to speak, aren’t allowed have a drink or leave their sunglasses on their head. The whole atmosphere makes them want to get out of there as fast as possible, according to Jackson.

“Even though the kids aren’t in trouble, that’s the feeling they get when they hear the word ‘hearing.’ Here at the transition center, we sit at a big table, talk conversationally, and have food and candy on the table; whatevermakes them comfortable,” says Jackson.

During hearings at BCFS Health and Human Services’ transition center, youth are asked several questions to help access their current status and future. Does the youth have everything they need; Are they happy with their placement in a foster home, shelter or residential treatment center; Do they want to be adopted; Do they want their parents’ rights terminated; How are they enjoying school; What are their grades like; What medications are they on and are they helping; Do they want to see a counselor or a doctor? The discussions sparked from these questions help ensure the youth is safe and receiving the right programs and services.

“Most youth are already accessing services at the transition center, so our case managers and other staff attend their hearing so they feel like there’s someone on their side,” says Jackson. “When youth come in for court that we don’t know, they take a court-ordered tour of the transition center and learn everything we can do for them. So if they run away, are reunited with their family, or get adopted, they know the center is here to help them.”

According to surveys, every youth who has participated has given 100% positive feedback about holding court at the center rather than the courthouse. So it’s no surprise the court program has grown exponentially since its inception. Originally, Judge Hart held court at the center a half-day each month. Six months later it grew to a full day, and now two days per month with Judge Kara Darnell also seeing youth at the center as of January. Today, about 46 youth are seen each month for court at the transition center.

Judge Hart explains that putting the youth in an overwhelming environment where they don’t feel like they can speak freely, makes them feel more like spectators than participants in their own life.

“Many times we’re focusing on things that are important for the youth that they don’t see as important at the moment,” says Judge Hart. “In a young woman’s hearing recently, we were discussing her education, where she could live, and mapping out her future, but the most important thing to her at that moment was, would she be able to get a prom dress! The same day, a young man was wondering if he’d be able to get a senior ring. Holding court at the center helps us to address those issues that would otherwise be buried in a court proceeding, and helps us remember what it’s like to be 17 or 18 again.”

Judge Hart says he’s inspired by the youth who are willing to embrace the help offered to them, particularly those who want to pursue education or a vocational training program.

“I used to see more youth whose biggest motivation was to get out of foster care,” says Judge Hart. “But now I’m seeing more who want to stay in care until they accomplish their bigger goals and can leave better equipped to take care of themselves. We’ve had several cases where kids just needed a little push or an encouraging word from someone to decide to pursue college.”

Another benefit of holding court at the center, according to Judge Hart, is the unique collaboration of everyone who plays a part in the youth’s care, including education specialists, aftercare coordinators, case workers, supervisors and foster parents.

“When we all sit around the table together we can brainstorm and get creative, which doesn’t happen in a courtroom setting. In fact, recently we held a hearing for a young lady with moderate intellectual disabilities who’ll require long-term care. We were discussing her needs and someone brought up the idea that she should apply to the Make A Wish Foundation. Someone in the group called, she was accepted, and they are planning a trip to Disneyland!”

Jackson and Judge Hart agree, if the youth feel like they’ve played a part in developing the plan for their lives, rather than someone telling them what they’re going to do, they take ownership of that plan and are more likely to succeed.


For more information about BCFS Health and Human Services’ Lubbock Transition Center, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/Lubbock. For information on how to support the work of the transition center by donating, contact Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie at (806) 792-0526 or send checks to 125 Chicago Avenue, Lubbock, Texas 79416.

BCFS Receives Grant from Community Foundation of Abilene

The Community Foundation of Abilene awarded $15,000 to BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Abilene Transition Center and Our House to support services provided to local youth at risk of experiencing homelessness, substance abuse, poverty or various other challenges.

ABILENE – The Community Foundation of Abilene awarded $15,000 to BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Abilene Transition Center and Our House to support services provided to local youth at risk of experiencing homelessness, substance abuse, poverty or various other challenges.

BCFS HHS’ Abilene Transition Center is a one-stop-shop for youth in or aging out of foster care, those in the juvenile justice system, and others in need of a helping hand to make the transition into adulthood. The center provides easy and efficient access to case management, counseling, education and employment assistance, and lifeskills training.

“When you consider the overwhelming likelihood of foster youth and those in the juvenile justice system becoming homeless, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and involved in crime, the services we offer at the Abilene Transition Center and Our House are lifesavers,” said Terri Hipps, Executive Director of BCFS’ Community Services Division. “We are grateful for the partnership and investment of the Community Foundation of Abilene in the lives of local youth. As a foundation funded by local donors, this grant sends a strong message to our youth that our community is rooting for their success.”

Foster youth are especially vulnerable to homelessness. In fact, within 18 months of aging out of the state foster care system, 50 percent of youth struggle to put a roof over their heads. BCFS HHS’ Our House provides a safe haven for males between the ages of 18-23 and provides a pipeline into the Abilene Transition Center so youth can receive wrap-around services

“It is critical that these impressionable young men have a safe place just for them. Because of the struggles they’ve faced in foster care or as a result of other traumas, they are extraordinarily vulnerable to becoming victimized and influenced by older individuals who are also coping with the issues surrounding homelessness,” said Hipps.

The Community Foundation of Abilene is a permanent collection of charitable funds supported by the general public and serving the greater Abilene region. The Foundation serves the entire community by raising, managing and distributing funds for charitable purposes. In many cases, contributions are pooled and invested, so that the earnings provide a permanent source of grant monies for general or specific purposes. For more information about the Community Foundation of Abilene, visit www.cfabilene.org.

For more information about BCFS HHS’ Our House project, please visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/OurHouse.

BCFS Names Susan Rios as Controller

BCFS named Susan Rios, CPA to serve as its controller. In this role, Rios will direct the agency’s worldwide financial operations, which includes overseeing multi-state and foreign reporting requirements, financial planning and budgeting, and internal controls.

Photo: Susan RiosSAN ANTONIO – Global health and human service non-profit system, BCFS, named Susan Rios, CPA to serve as its controller. In this role, Rios will direct the agency’s worldwide financial operations, which includes overseeing multi-state and foreign reporting requirements, financial planning and  budgeting, and internal controls.

“Susan has the experience and expertise needed for managing BCFS’ complex financial functions, and I am confident in her ability to maintain the integrity with which our agency’s financial operations are run,” said Claudia Oliveira, CPA, BCFS Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. “We are pleased to have her as a member of our team.”

Most recently, Rios served as controller of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute. Previously, she served as economic development manager and assistant controller for the City of San Antonio. She has extensive experience in grant and contract administration, which plays a large part in BCFS’ funding streams, and the reporting of financial and budgetary information to federal agencies and corporate entities. Rios earned her bachelor’s of Business Administration from St. Mary’s University.

Congressman Cuellar Cuts Ribbon on New Mobile Medical Unit 

LAREDO – Congressman Henry Cuellar was joined today by state and local elected officials, healthcare leaders and first responders for a ceremony dedicating a new, state-of-the-art emergency response and medical asset that will deliver care to individuals along the border and in areas impacted by disaster. The mobile medical unit was funded by the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust and BCFS Foundation. It is operated by BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS), a global organization that has provided medical care and case management to individuals and families in Webb County for more than a decade.
“Communities along the border face a unique set of challenges in providing healthcare to their citizens, especially for those that live in colonias,” said Congressman Cuellar.  “The Healthy Start program not only helps people who specifically request assistance, but more importantly its services go into areas where residents are often isolated geographically. This new mobile unit will continue to break down barriers by bringing care directly to communities along the border that have some of the highest rates of poverty and lack of insurance. I would like to thank everyone that has played a role in this milestone of healthcare and emergency preparedness for our citizens of Webb County.”
The unit, which will serve on a daily basis as part of BCFS HHS’ federal Healthy Start program, is outfitted with an exam room, sophisticated monitoring technology such as a non-fetal stress test monitor and ultrasound, and other medical tools needed to fulfill its mission of delivering prenatal and postpartum care to women living in the colonias. It is also equipped with neonatal capabilities should a hospital need to evacuate during an emergency, such as what happened during Hurricane Sandy. In addition, the vehicle can serve as a rehab resource for fire fighters and other first responders, equipped with liquid cooling vests, wireless vital signs monitors, oxygen units and other tools to assist responders during an emergency.
“Emergencies happen on micro and macro levels, depending on the vantage point of those who are impacted,” said Kevin C. Dinnin, BCFS President & CEO. “From an expectant mother who wants nothing more than her child to be born healthy but cannot access proper medical care, to fire fighters and first responders who put their own lives in danger to help those in peril, having a multifaceted tool in the toolbox like this mobile medical unit is going to increase the overall safety and wellbeing of many throughout Laredo and beyond. BCFS is proud to be part of that effort.”
Since 2001, BCFS HHS has led the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy Start program with the aim of reducing infant mortality, preventing child abuse, and assisting families in meeting basic health needs. Since transportation is not readily available for a large number of residents in the colonias, BCFS HHS’ mobile medical unit breaks down barriers to health by bringing care directly to families. The unit is stationed at various community health centers and other designated sites throughout the week and is staffed by nurses from BCFS HHS and its partner, Doctors Hospital of Laredo. In addition, BCFS HHS also provides case management services to address families’ medical, social, financial, educational, legal, housing, parenting and employment needs.
Most mothers in the program would never receive prenatal care if it were not for BCFS HHS, and nearly all went without care for previous children. Thanks to BCFS HHS’ Healthy Start, more women in Webb County are receiving prenatal care than ever before.
BCFS HHS’ Emergency Management Division is a non-profit partner of federal, state and local government and private industry, and has been tapped to respond to catastrophic disasters throughout Texas and around the world, including the H1N1 flu pandemic and countless hurricanes, tornados, fires, floods, hazardous material spills and earthquakes.