Parent support groups in Kerrville improve family communication and offer summer fun giveaways

In every parent’s mind there runs a continuous ticker of nagging questions, like how do I get my teenager to follow curfew, do their chores, or be kind to their siblings? Or what will make my young child act appropriately in public, stop interrupting, or do their schoolwork? Some parents call friends or family for advice, others search the internet for parenting tips – but some local moms and dads are turning to new support groups that use an evidence-based curriculum and strategies to answer their questions.

These free parenting support groups aimed at strengthening families, called Texas Families: Together and Safe (TFTS), meet weekly to discover how to improve communication, manage stress and resolve conflict within the family. The groups are led by BCFS Health and Human Services’ Kerrville Transition Center.

“Every parent wants to see their child succeed in their education, personal relationships and overall well-being, and many parents look for ways to improve their skills so their child can truly excel,” says Terri Hipps, executive director of BCFS’ Community Services Division. “The moms and dads who participate in our groups learn a lot from one another’s experiences, gain confidence and see that they’re not alone in the struggle to maintain a loving, nurturing home environment.”

Program participants are included in drawings to win prizes that include an Xbox One gaming console worth $500, and assorted packages worth $150 each including a Samsung Galaxy Tab Lite, a Samsung digital camera and digital frame, and a family gift bag of games and movies. Door prizes including gift cards are given away weekly at each group meeting.

“Too often it can be a thankless job to raise a family. So we want to reward families who take the initiative to participate in the meetings by offering prize giveaways that help family members come together for fun, bonding experiences,” says Hipps.

BCFS’ Kerrville Transition Center serves local youth, helping them transition to adulthood and independence by providing case management, counseling, mentorships, assistance with education, employment and housing location, and transitional living apartments. Youth served at the center are in the foster care system, juvenile justice, or at-risk of issues like poverty, homelessness or dropping out of school.

In recent years the transition center rapidly outgrew its small facility, so in early April community leaders gathered on Main Street to break ground on a brand new 20,000 square foot building set to open in early 2015. The new center, named the BCFS Health and Human Services Hill Country Transition Center, will house five non-profits and is expected to serve more than 4,000 children and families annually.

For more information about parent support groups through BCFS’ Kerrville Transition Center, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Kerrville or call (830) 928-9267.

To support the work of the transition center by donating, contact Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie at (830) 896-0993, give securely online, or send checks to 1105 East Main Street, Kerrville, Texas 78028.

Community Celebrated 3rd Anniversary of BCFS Health and Human Services’ Abilene Transition Center Serving Local Youth

Over $4,500 in donations presented by Hendrick Medical Center

ABILENE – At an Alice In Wonderland-themed Mad Hatter party, BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center gathered with local youth, community partners, other non-profits, and Hendrick Medical Center to celebrate the transition center’s third anniversary of serving youth in foster care, those aging out of care, and those at-risk of serious issues like homelessness and substance abuse.

At the event Friday June 6th, staff led tours of the transition center and its programs, donned in Alice in Wonderland-themed costumes, and held a hot dog eating contest, a silly string fight, and a playful game of “water war” with community partners. A ceremony was held to celebrate the achievements of several of the transition center’s youth, and one young man gave a speech about how he turned his life around with the help of the center’s juvenile justice program.

The BCFS Abilene Transition Center is a safe-haven for local youth, helping them transition successfully into adulthood and independence. The center serves youth in foster care, those in the juvenile justice system, and other young adults by providing case management, counseling, mentorships, assistance with education, employment and housing location, and transitional housing for young men called “Our House.”

Hendrick Medical Center presented the BCFS Abilene Transition Center with a check for $2,055 from their Run For Our Youth 5K fundraising event held in April, and surprised the center with gift cards and donations worth another $2,500 to help the youth buy professional clothing for job interviews, pay GED fees, buy bus passes and get state identification cards. Maribeth Jenkins, Elyse Lewis, Michelle Mauldin, and Janice Reeves of Hendrick Medical Center were in attendance.

“We are grateful for the generosity of Hendrick Medical Center, and their gifts demonstrate they truly understand the needs and struggles of our youth,” said Terri Hipps, executive director of BCFS’ Community Services Division. “Too often, young men and women come to us with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and we strive to act as their support system and help them see a brighter future. Partners like Hendrick Medical Center help make this life-change possible in youth who have nowhere else to turn.”

Attendees included youth who utilize the center’s services, as well as representatives from Taylor County Juvenile Probation Department, Providence Service Corporation, Betty Hardwick Center/MHMR, Serenity Foundation, 2-1-1, and the Hendrick Medical Center.

The party marked the BCFS Abilene Transition Center’s 3rd anniversary and the 70th anniversary of BCFS, the global system of health and human service non-profit organizations that operates the Abilene Transition Center and six others like it across Texas.

The transition center will host their inaugural Men’s Field of Dreams Steak & Eggs Breakfast on August 7th at the Abilene Country Club. Men from the Abilene community are invited to enjoy breakfast, live music, a classic car-viewing, and guest speaker Jimmy “The Rookie” Morris, who inspired the book and movie “The Rookie.” All proceeds will benefit the BCFS Abilene Transition Center and Our House. Registration information is available at DiscoverBCFS.net/Abilene.

For more information about BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center services, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Abilene or call (325) 692-0033. To support the work of the transition center by donating, contact Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie at (325) 692-0033, give securely online, or send checks to 1290 South Willis Suite 55, Abilene, Texas 79605.

BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center receives grant for Court Improvement Project

LUBBOCK – The BCFS Health and Human Services’ Lubbock Transition Center has received a $4,800 grant from the Lubbock Area Foundation (LAF) to fund the Court Improvement Project which changed the way local youth in foster care participate in hearings that impact services they receive and their quality of life.

BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center is a safe-haven for local youth, helping youth in foster care, those aging out of care and those at risk of homelessness, poverty or other challenges transition successfully into adulthood and independence. The center – which serves approximately 600 youth each year – provides case management, counseling, mentorships, and assistance with education, employment and housing location.

When BCFS began partnering with Judge Kevin Hart to hold youth hearings at the transition center rather than the intimidating environment of the courthouse, they saw a positive increase in youth’s active participation in hearings, the youth’s satisfaction with the outcomes, and creative collaboration between participants like case workers and family members.

The Lubbock Area Foundation grant will be used to support the Court Improvement Project and pay for things like technology costs for hearings held remotely, transportation costs to ensure youth attend, food and snacks, and other efforts to keep the hearing environments comfortable and inclusive to better serve the youth.

Lubbock Area Foundation is the community foundation for the entire South Plains area and exists to help people who care about the Lubbock area to invest – at any level – in its future. The Foundation provides an easy and effective way for generous people to create permanent charitable endowments for the benefits of this area. Grants are awarded from endowments based on the interest of the donor or through an open competitive process that is responsive to the changing needs of our community.

BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center is hosting their annual Hope Chest luncheon Wednesday June 18th to honor youth in foster care who recently graduated high school and college, and equip them for their next steps toward independence with Target store credit or a shopping spree for necessities like bedding, towels and hygiene supplies.

For more information about BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Lubbock. To support the work of the transition center by donating, contact Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie at (806) 792-0526, give securely online, or send checks to 125 Chicago Avenue, Lubbock, Texas 79416.

“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.