Flores Named New Healthy Start Program Director

Photo: Araceli Flores

BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS) has named Araceli M. Flores as the new program director for its Healthy Start program, which has played a major role in ensuring thousands of healthy babies were born from families living in Webb County colonias.

“Araceli brings a ‘get it done’ leadership attitude, combined with the caring nature of a nurse,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS HHS Executive Director of the Community Services Division. “No doubt these traits, combined with her many years old experience in health care, is going to make her a great leader of our Laredo operations.”

Flores is a registered nurse with 17 years of experience delivering and directing efforts to bring compassionate care to children and families in Laredo.  She previously served as a board member for the Salvation Army, participated in Leadership Laredo and was a Laredo Medical Center Healthy Woman Advisory Council Member. She attended Laredo Community College and earned a certification in forensic nursing from Kaplan University before earning a BSN from Texas A&M International University.

BCFS HHS’ Healthy Start program was established in Laredo in 2001 as an effort to decrease disparities in access to maternal and child healthcare. Since transportation is limited or nonexistent for many families served by BCFS HHS, Healthy Start travels to clients, providing mobile medical care, case management, and other comprehensive services to Colonia residents along the U.S. border with Mexico. Thanks to the program, more women in Laredo now receive prenatal care than ever before.

Women who are pregnant or have a child/children younger than 2 years of age are eligible for free services. Services provided by BCFS HHS include:

  • Prenatal and postpartum care via mobile unit
  • Health education and parenting education
  • Pediatric services
  • Laboratory services
  • Pharmacy services
  • Mental health services
  • Outpatient case management services to address the medical, social, financial, educational, legal, housing, parenting and employment areas of the served families

Hal and Charlie Peterson Foundation Invest in Youth Transition Center

The Hal and Charlie Peterson Foundation Invests $125,000 in Building Kerrville’s New Youth Transition Center

The Hal and Charlie Peterson Foundation has awarded BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS) $125,000 toward the construction of a new Kerrville Transition Center that serves youth in foster care and those facing other struggles, such as homelessness, substance abuse, poverty, unplanned pregnancies and more. The project has received significant support from many community leaders, organizations and philanthropists passionate about filling an unmet need for youth of the Hill Country.

“Since we opened Kerrville’s original transition center six years ago, demand for services has exploded,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS HHS Executive Director of the Community Services Division. “We are grateful to the Peterson Foundation and all those who have and will invest in the expansion of transitional care services, so we may continue to provide comprehensive, coordinated, and, importantly, non-duplicated care to youth making the transition into independence and adulthood.”

Transition centers bring together under one roof services such as counseling, case management, access to medical care, emergency housing assistance, life skills training, literacy training, educational support, and connections to employment and educational opportunities. The new transition center will continue to be operated by BCFS HHS, while also housing four other non-profits: Art 2 Heart; Families & Literacy; and Partners In Ministry-Vision Youth. In addition, it will provide space on an as-needed basis for other community partners to directly offer services to youth.

The capital campaign was fueled by a $500,000 challenge grant from The Cailloux Foundation to build a new “one stop” transition center on the non-profit block managed by the Community Foundation. The new 16,000 square foot Kerrville Transition Center will provide a robust place where compassion and help will be available to serve more than 4,000 individuals in need each year. Christian Women’s Job Corps and Big Brothers Big Sisters will remain on the campus and offer coordinated services as well.

“We support the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country and BCFS HHS in this capital project and urge others to support it as well,” said Sandy Cailloux Executive Director of the Cailloux Foundation. “Helping at-risk youth and young adults become more responsible and self-sufficient gives them a much better start in life and strengthens our entire community.”

All gifts to the new Kerrville Transition Center are tax deductible. Checks may be made out to BCFS and mailed to 550 Earl Garret Suite 114 in Kerrville or at www.DiscoverBCFS.net/StepUp

BCFS Education Services to Lead New Head Start Locations

BCFS Education Services will lead the Head Start program in Atascosa, Karnes and Wilson counties beginning this school year. The program aims to propel children ages 3 to 5 from disadvantaged backgrounds toward academic success and prosperity through the provision of educational, health, nutritional and social services.

BCFS Education Services to Lead Head Start Program in Atascosa, Karnes and Wilson Counties

Program Promotes Academic Achievement and School Readiness for Children Ages 3-5

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded BCFS Education Services the competitive grant to lead the Head Start program in Atascosa, Karnes and Wilson counties beginning this school year. The program, which expands BCFS Education Services’ current Head Start work in Texas, aims to propel children ages 3 to 5 from disadvantaged backgrounds toward academic success and prosperity through the provision of educational, health, nutritional and social services.
“Thanks to the support and partnership of our community partners and public leaders, we are excited to expand our Head Start program to Atascosa, Karnes and Wilson counties,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS Education Services Executive Director. “Together, we will ensure children acquire the skills and confidence they need to be prepared for success in kindergarten and throughout their academic career.”
The program will continue to serve 360 children (the same as in recent years) throughout the three counties. BCFS Education Services is partnering with the Charlotte, Jourdanton, Kenedy, Pleasanton, Poteet and Stockdale independent school districts to provide services at school-based locations. Eligible families may pick-up a Pre-K application at their local elementary school or download an application from BCFS Education Services’ website. Eligibility criteria are also available on BCFS Education Services’ site. Enrollment begins August 1 and classes commence in accordance with the local ISD calendar. Applications are accepted year-round.
The organization will also operate non-school-based sites in Floresville and Karnes City. These sites will begin enrollment on August 15 and applications can be dropped off at the centers. Classes will commence October 1.
Each BCFS Education Services Head Start classroom focuses on individualized teaching and comprehensive support services, complete with field trips, meals and snacks, parent trainings, mental wellness, health services, dental exams, disability services and even free bus transportation.
BCFS Education Services is part of the global BCFS system of health and human service non-profit organizations.

BCFS Trains St. Louis Regional Responders on Mass Fatality Response

St. Louis-Area Regional Response System Contracts with BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division for Mass Fatality Trainings

The St. Louis Regional Response System (STARRS), through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, contracted with BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS EMD) to train local officials and emergency managers in Missouri and Illinois on best practices for mass fatality operations during disasters. The curriculum was designed around the area’s unique needs and existing processes to ensure a customized, practical response capability was established.
The STARRS is comprised of emergency response leaders from the bi-state St. Louis area, which encompasses the City of St. Louis; Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis counties in Missouri; and Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties in Illinois.
“The New Madrid Fault poses one of the greatest catastrophic threats to our nation. On the line are lives, infrastructure, and the economy,” said Kari Tatro, BCFS Executive Vice President of Emergency Management. “Without comprehensive and effective planning for mass fatalities, the devastation could be too much to recover from.”
BCFS EMD’s trainings for STARRS focused on site field and recovery; disaster morgue services; and victim identification. In addition to being designed around the unique needs of the STARRS, specific exercises and practical application activities were based on guidance from the Department of Homeland Security’s “Exercise Evaluation Guide for the Fatality Management Target Capability.” The three specific training courses lasted two days, and each included a practical, hands-on exercise that applied learning concepts presented in the classroom.
One participant said he most enjoyed the “instructor’s ability to relate real world events to training concepts and interaction with peers/partners.”
“This series of classes was exceptional; amongst the best training I have attended. Very knowledgeable and well qualified instructors,” he continued.
BCFS EMD is a national leader in medical and general population sheltering, incident management, and caring for individuals with disabilities during emergencies. The organization is a top emergency management partner for FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and numerous states across the nation. Most recently, BCFS EMD embedded in the City of Los Angeles’ emergency management department to assist in strengthening and ensuring its program integrated planning for people with disabilities. BCFS EMD is also developing FEMA’s national “Whole Community” Disaster Training Program.
For more information about BCFS EMD, please visit www.BCFS.net/EMD.

BCFS HHS Providing Foster Youth with a Full “Hope Chest”

Each year, BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Lubbock Transition Center holds the “Hope Chest” luncheon to celebrate local foster youth who are graduating from high school and college, and equip them for their next steps toward adulthood and independence. Each college student receives a $1,000 Target gift card and high school graduates receive $550 in store credit to stock up on necessities like household items, bedding, towels and kitchenware.

LUBBOCK – Each year, BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Lubbock Transition Center holds the “Hope Chest” luncheon to celebrate local foster youth who are graduating from high school and college, and equip them for their next steps toward adulthood and independence. Each college student receives a $1,000 Target gift card and high school graduates receive $550 in store credit to stock up on necessities like household items, bedding, towels and kitchenware. After the luncheon, the high school grads descend on Target with their shopping list of essentials and a staff member or volunteer to guide them on their ultimate shopping spree.
“Graduating high school and college is a tremendous achievement for any young adult, especially one who has faced instability and uncertainty in the foster care system,” explained Kami Jackson, director of the BCFS HHS Lubbock Transition Center. “Our Hope Chest event is a time when the whole community can come together and show these youth how proud of them we are.”
For teens aging out of foster care, BCFS HHS youth transition centers offer more than “one stop” ease to accessing resources and assistance. The case managers, counselors, college advisors and other community resources housed in the centers instill accountability, encouragement and direction to teens making the transition into adulthood. Similar to the role of a parent or other adult mentor, transition centers teach youth basic life skills, like how to manage a bank account or rent an apartment. They also offer career training and connections, educational assistance, literacy-boosting programs, and more.
Each youth is given a budget and a list of items they can buy. Youth do not have enough money to purchase everything on the list or buy all name-brand items, so they must decide what essentials they need and how much they are willing to pay. Target also provides a 10% discount, which youth must calculate before heading to the register.
“One of the coolest things about our Hope Chest shopping experience is that it teaches youth the importance of money management,” said Jackson. “It’s important for us to create these parameters and give our youth a list to stick to for a couple of reasons. For one, most 18 year olds don’t automatically think of needing to buy sponges or dish detergent. And two, if we didn’t put guidelines in place, I bet every youth would walk out of Target with a big screen TV instead of a shower curtain. The former is obviously not an essential.”
BCFS HHS’ transition centers are making a real difference in the lives of foster and at-risk youth – removing barriers to success and equipping them with the resources they need to become independent, successful and law-abiding adults. Every penny given to the Hope Chest benefit goes directly toward gift cards for graduating youth.
To learn more about the organization’s work with youth and young adults or to donate to the Hope Chest, please visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Lubbock.

Graduation Ceremony Honors Boerne Head Start Students

Program Promotes Academic Achievement and School Readiness or Children Ages 3-5

Photo: Child graduation

Nearly 50 preschoolers, excited and giggly, donned white caps and gowns and contagious smiles for the graduation ceremony of the Head Start program operated by BCFS Education Services. Proud parents and family members had their camcorders and phones at the ready to capture the sweet memories and they cheered on the little graduates.

The BCFS Education Services Head Start program in Kendall County aims to propel students from disadvantaged backgrounds toward academic success and prosperity through the provision of educational, health, nutritional and social services. Head Start is a national program funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that promotes school readiness in children ages 3 to 5.

“Graduation is such an important milestone for Head Start students and their families,” said Rebecca Goodwyn, BCFS Education Services Program Director of Kendall County Head Start. “Children leave the program having acquired skills and confidence that set them up for success in kindergarten and hopefully throughout their academic career. We focus on building a strong foundation for future learning and growth.”

Each BCFS Education Services Head Start classroom focuses on individualized teaching and comprehensive support services, complete with field trips, meals and snacks, parent trainings, mental wellness, health services, dental exams, disability services and even free bus transportation. To learn more about BCFS Education Services Head Start program, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/HeadStart.

Dimas Named BCFS Health and Human Services’ Associate Executive Director

BCFS names Kenia Dimas associate executive director for the agency’s South Texas community-based operations. As associate executive director, she will be responsible for overseeing the growth and success of community-based programs that touch the lives of thousands.

BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS), a global non-profit organization headquartered in Texas with locations from coast-to-coast and on four continents, has named Kenia Dimas, of Corpus Christi, as associate executive director for the agency’s South Texas community-based operations.

“During a time when many organizations and business have struggled, BCFS HHS continues to grow thanks to strategic development and a strong commitment to always deliver what we promise,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS HHS Executive Director of the Community Services Division.

“Kenia has a track record of meeting challenging and sometimes unchartered programmatic and financial goals, while never wavering to put what is right for the youth we serve first. This commitment to getting the job done – and done right – is why I know that she will be a great asset for BCFS HHS as we continue to build our reach across the state.”

Dimas has been with BCFS HHS since 2008 and has more than 11 years of experience working with at-risk children and youth. As associate executive director, she will be responsible for overseeing the growth and success of community-based programs that touch the lives of thousands.

Non-profit Campus Set to Expand

The symbiotic relationship on Kerrville’s non-profit campus saves youth from homelessness, substance abuse, unemployment, crime and unplanned pregnancies. Thanks to the Ruby Stevens Foundation, Hal Peterson Foundation, Sterling-Turner Foundation, Cailloux Foundation and other organizations and individuals in the community, more than $1 million has been secured to expand the campus.

By Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie

In 2005, The Cailloux Foundation hosted a community meeting to find out what was going on with former foster youth in our community. Finding resources and accessing assistance is a difficult web to navigate, especially for young adults without parents or other strong support systems to help guide them. That’s when BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Terri Hipps – who lives in Kerrville – presented the idea of opening a transition center.

BCFS HHS helped establish Texas’ first youth transition center in San Antonio in 2000. In a single location, foster youth saw their case manager, received help with their FAFSA, engaged in life skills training, and more. If youth had to travel to different sites throughout the city to access these services, they would never get everything they needed. When providers are all located together, youth receive the comprehensive, coordinated – and non-duplicated – care they need to make the transition into adulthood.

The Kerrville community partners were interested in bringing this kind of “one stop” model to their town. To get started, the Cailloux Foundation provided grant money to the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country with the purpose of establishing a nonprofit campus for Kerrville. The Community Foundation in turn acquired two pieces of property two blocks east of the Kerr County Courthouse where Main and Broadway split. The property had a house (currently occupied by BCFS HHS’ Kerrville Transition Center), a cottage that is home to Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), and a building now home to the Christian Women’s Job Corps of Kerr County (CWJC).

For six years now, the block at 1105 E. Main Street has served as a centralized location where non-profits work together to leverage their resources and better serve former foster youth and other clients. The symbiotic relationship among the agencies was effective in saving youth from homelessness, substance abuse, unemployment, crime and unplanned pregnancies. Each year, the Kerrville Transition Center helps thousands of teens and young adults. Yet, the growth of available services is now spilling out beyond the block and into buildings around town – negating the “one stop” ease that originally inspired the development.

Now, the Cailloux Foundation has again stepped up for foster youth. The organization has issued a $500,000 challenge grant to build a new “one stop” building. The transition center will not only house BCFS HHS, but also Art-2-Heart, Families & Literacy, and Partners In Ministry Vision Youth, and other human services organizations. CWJC and BBBS will also remain on the campus.

“Everyone at the Community Foundation is very excited about this next step in realizing the vision of the campus. The BCFS HHS Transition Center will certainly provide the impetus for fulfillment of our nonprofit campus dream,” said Paul Urban, Executive Director for the Community Foundation. “As a result of BCFS HHS’ efforts, it has given the foundation the opportunity to develop a master plan to attract other nonprofits too.”

Kristin Cook, Branch Coordinator for BBBS said, “I am very excited to see the nonprofit campus planning in its final stages because I strongly believe it will be a true asset to our community. It will enhance communication between these nonprofits which will ultimately benefit clients and the community. All of the resources someone could need will be at an arm’s length.”

Another campus partner stated, “CWJC can only see great benefits with this campus. Many people, regardless of their gender or severity of need, will be able to access the help, training, and aide they require to move forward in their lives. We look forward to having many non-profits easily accessible and working together for the good of the Kerrville community,” said Ann Buck, current CWJC Executive Director.

Thanks to the support of the Ruby Stevens Foundation, the Hal Peterson Foundation, the Sterling-Turner Foundation, the Cailloux Foundation and other organizations and individuals in the community, more than $1 million has been secured to build the new facility. The new 16,000 square foot Kerrville Transition Center will provide a robust place where compassion and help will be available for thousands in the Texas Hill Country.

“We support the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country and BCFS HHS in this capital project and urge others to support it as well,” said Sandy Cailloux Executive Director of the Cailloux Foundation. “Helping at-risk youth and young adults become more responsible and self-sufficient gives them a much better start in life and strengthens our entire community.”

For more information, contact Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie at (830) 928-9387.

BCFS Commits $225,000 Challenge Grant to Abilene’s “Our House”

Commitment is in addition to $250,000 in capital and construction costs BCFS has already invested in the transitional living home

Last December, BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS) celebrated the grand opening of its transitional living home for homeless teens and young adults, called “Our House.” Now, BCFS HHS’ parent company, BCFS, is committing a $225,000 challenge grant over three years to solidly plant the organization’s footprint and mission in Abilene for years to come. The grant must be matched by the community, and is in addition to the $250,000 in capital and construction costs BCFS has already invested in Our House, and the $194,000 contributed by the city and private donors.

“We are investing in the Our House program because we believe in its mission, its effectiveness, and its ability to make Abilene a better place for everyone who calls this city their home,” said Kevin C. Dinnin, BCFS President and CEO.

“With the support of community leaders, private funders, and our sister agencies, Hendrick Medical Center and Hardin-Simmons University, I know the Abilene community has the passion and motivation needed to get our youth off the streets and onto the path of stable, independent and successful lives. Our House is proud to be part of that mission.”

According to the Abilene Independent School District, an estimated 981 students were homeless at the end of the 2010-2011 academic year. 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.

Our House addresses the issue of homelessness head-on and provides a pipeline into BCFS HHS’ Abilene Transition Center, which houses a comprehensive network of community organizations, as well as private and government partners, that makes accessing resources simple for at-risk youth.

“Comprehensive services, like those coordinated through BCFS HHS’ Abilene Transition Center, are seen as lifesavers 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,” said Johnny Nguyen, Program Director for BCFS HHS’ Abilene Transition Center.

The vision for Our House was sparked by Abilene’s Christian Community Development Corporation (CCDC), whose board members included passionate and influential community members like Randy Perkins and Nancy Capra. At CCDC’s request, BCFS HHS took on the project of bringing Our House from a dream, to reality.

Today, Our House provides a safe haven for males between the ages of 18-23. The decision to serve young men exclusively was based on the higher demand for housing for young men than young women. Plus, there are currently more options available to young women.

“It is critical that these young and 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 Nguyen.

Some youth may need help from BCFS HHS’ Our House for a month, while another young adult may need to stay for a year. BCFS HHS designs each youth’s transition plan based on their specific strengths and needs. While young adults aren’t charged rent in the traditional sense, they are required to save money. This is put aside in a fund available to them when they leave to use toward a down payment for an apartment. Ultimately, this is just one of many ways BCFS HHS helps stabilize and develop youth toward becoming independent, law-abiding adults who aren’t reliant on government or social services.

BCFS Announces Leadership Changes and New “Community Services Division”

BCFS Health and Human Services’ new “Community Services Division” will lead programs that serve thousands of children, families and communities each year. Terri Hipps will serve as executive director, focusing on on developing best practice service models, and expanding programs and community support.

Effective April 1, BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS) will join together the Teen & Youth Services and Community-based Services Divisions to create one unified “Community Services Division.”

The new division will lead programs that serve thousands of children, families and communities each year. Terri Hipps, who has been with BCFS HHS for 10 years, will serve as executive director. In this role, she will focus on developing best practice service models, and expanding programs and community support. Under Hipps’ leadership, three associate executive directors will assist with the management of operations throughout the far-reaching division.

Cindi Garcia, who has been with BCFS HHS for 14 years, will make the transition from executive director to vice president of program operations support for BCFS Community and International Operations. In this role, she will lead the agency’s investments in quality assurance, professional development, systems improvement, research, and other special projects.

“Smart and strategic growth management has ensured the BCFS system has had fortitude needed to sustain and expand our work times of prosperity as well as times of challenge,” said Ben Delgado, BCFS Executive Vice President of Community and International Operations. “This new structure will support increased standardization of business processes and shared best practices.”

“Terri and Cindi’s longtime leadership as executive directors has played a key part in making BCFS HHS what it is today,” he continued. “In their new roles, I know they will continue to be strong forces in the development of who we will be in the future.”