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 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 Health and Human Services’ Abilene Transition Center and Our House receives $15,500 Community Foundation of Abilene Grant

The Community Foundation of Abilene has awarded $15,500 to BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center and Our House, which serve local youth aging out of foster care and those struggling with homelessness, poverty and other issues. The grant provides discretionary funds to be used for operational costs, transportation expenses and GED testing fees.

ABILENE — The Community Foundation of Abilene has awarded $15,500 to BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center and Our House, which serve local youth aging out of foster care and those struggling with homelessness, poverty and other issues. The grant provides discretionary funds to be used for operational costs, transportation expenses and GED testing fees.
The BCFS Abilene Transition Center provides youth with case management, counseling and assistance with education, employment and housing. Many of the youth have been removed from their biological parents due to abuse or neglect and spent time in foster care, or have been involved in 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.
BCFS’ Our House provides young men struggling with homelessness a safe, stable living environment. Our House residents plug into services at the transition center to work towards self-sufficiency, finish high school or earn a GED, find a job, save money for their own apartment, and apply for college.
“The Community Foundation of Abilene is proud to support the tremendous work of BCFS Health and Human Services’ Abilene Transition Center,” said Community Foundation of Abilene President and CEO Katie Alford. “Local teens and young adults now have a resource that simply didn’t exist here, and it’s truly making a difference in our community.”
“It’s an honor and privilege to partner with the Community Foundation of Abilene to serve youth in need in the Big Country,” said BCFS Development Officer Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie. “The foundation continues to bless young men and women working with BCFS to become successful, contributing members of the Abilene community.”
For more information about the BCFS Abilene Transition Center, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Abilene or call (325) 692-0033.

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.

Dodge Jones Foundation Awards $200,000 to BCFS Health and Human Services’ Abilene Transition Center

The Dodge Jones Foundation awarded $200,000 to BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Abilene Transition Center to expand the facility’s physical footprint and, therefore, it’s capacity to serve more youth and young adults in need throughout the Big Country.
Since opening in 2010, the transition center has quadrupled the number of lives it touches annually. Currently, the center serves approximately 200 youth and families each month, offering support services that include case management; counseling; assistance with education, employment and housing; life skills training; college preparation; and transition planning. It is a “one-stop-shop” for youth in or aging out of foster care, those in the juvenile justice system, or others struggling with challenges such as homelessness, substance abuse, unplanned pregnancy,  and more.
“The growth we’ve experienced in such a short time is truly a testament to the need and effectiveness of the ‘one stop’ model of delivering care,” said Terri Hipps, executive director of BCFS’ Community Services Division.
“The Dodge Jones Foundation has been one of our greatest champions, supporters and partners since opening our doors three years ago,” she continued. “Our shared philosophy recognizes that the investment they are making today is not in BCFS HHS, but rather in the belief that every child in our community, regardless of their past, can be part of the fabric that makes Abilene a safe and prosperous place to call home.”
Collocating with community partners, such as the Texas Workforce Commission and local universities, allows the BCFS HHS center to offer comprehensive – and non-duplicated – services in an effective and cost-efficient manner. Expansion of the center will nearly double its size, making it possible to dedicate more space for partners, as well as bolster the center’s capacity to reach a larger number of youth and families. Construction is planned to begin in January and be completed by springtime.

BCFS Health & Human Services celebrates the opening of Our House

BCFS Health and Human Services today celebrated the opening of its new “Our House” program. BCFS’ Our House is a transitional living home for homeless males between the ages of 18-23, located at 202 Vine Street. The vision for Our House was sparked years ago by the Christian Community Development Coalition (CCDC)….

ABILENE – BCFS Health and Human Services today celebrated the opening of its new “Our House” program. BCFS’ Our House is a transitional living home for homeless males between the ages of 18-23, located at 202 Vine Street.

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

“It’s hard to chase your dreams when you’re worried about where you’re going to sleep at night or get your next meal,” said Terri Hipps, BCFS Executive Director of Teen and Youth Services.

“Homelessness impacts much more than the individual, it has a compounding effect on the health and prosperity of the whole community,” she continued. “BCFS is proud to have had the strong support of community leaders like Mayor Norm Archibald and the City of Abilene, as well as partner agencies, as we worked to build and open Our House and begin answering this vital need.”

Thanks to funding from numerous private foundations, individual donors, and a community development block grant through the City of Abilene, BCFS’ Our House represents a nearly $345,000 investment in serving struggling Abilene youth. Prior to opening, BCFS ensured that it secured enough revenue to cover Our House’s operating expenses for at least the first year. This tactic was a powerful statement of BCFS’ commitment to be a sustainable, long-term resource for youth and the community.

Youth may stay at Our House for as long as needed, which may range from a few months to a year. The key strength of the project will be its connection with BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center, which opened in 2011 and provides counseling, case management, and education, housing assistance and employment connections to more than 400 youth each year.

Those assisted by the transition center include former foster youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, high school drop outs and homeless young adults. According to the Abilene Independent School District, an estimated 743 students in were homeless at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. Foster youth are especially vulnerable to homelessness. 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’ transition center and Our House project address these issues head-on, providing an easily-accessible and comprehensive network that makes getting help simple for youth.

“We are thankful to the community leaders, the City of Abilene, and our sister agencies, Hendrick Medical Center  and Hardin-Simmons University, for their partnership and support,” said BCFS President and CEO Kevin C. Dinnin.

For more information about BCFS’ work with teen and youth around the world, please visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net.

 

BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center Celebrates with One Year Birthday Party

Hendrick Medical Center presents check for $8,935 to support the center’s work with at-risk youth

Joined by a large group of friends and community partners, BCFS Health and Human Services’ Abilene Transition Center threw a one year “birthday party” filled with hot dogs, games and – of course – birthday cake. Since opening last year, BCFS’ transition center has helped more than 200 former foster youth and other at-risk young adults apply for college and financial aid, secure safe and affordable housing, develop resumes, land jobs and navigate other resources that lead to independence and success. The organization expects to serve more than 300 youth in its second year.

“For too long, foster youth and other young people who were struggling here in the Big Country were told that they would have to find a way to get to a larger city, like San Antonio or Dallas, to access resources like case management and housing stipends. That was an impossible feat for youth who had little to no support network,” said Johnny Nguyen, BCFS Program Director who oversees the transition center. “Now, thanks to the transition center and the extraordinary partners who operate out of it, young adults are able to benefit from a comprehensive and coordinated system of services that will make them more independent and successful as they begin life on their own.”

BCFS’ Abilene Transition Center is a “one stop shop” that provides easy and efficient access to counseling, educational and employment assistance, life skills training and more. In addition to BCFS, the center houses other non-profits, government agencies, and advisors from local colleges and universities. This inclusive model of service delivery ensures comprehensive – yet non-duplicated – access to resources for youth. Ultimately, the center aims to lessen at-risk youth’s likelihood of dependence on government programs in the future.

During the celebration, Hendrick Medical Center presented BCFS with a check for $8,935, raised through their April “Walk for Our Youth” 5K. In addition, Hendrick has also supported BCFS’ youth by developing an intensive 8-week training curriculum for those seeking to work in the medical field as phlebotomists and certified nursing assistants. Since April, five young adults have been hired by Hendrick in the fields of clinical care, environmental services, admissions and information technology.

Within 18 months of aging out of the state foster care system, 50 percent of youth become homeless. Similarly, more than half the young adults returning home from juvenile justice institutions suffer from a mental health issue or substance abuse. BCFS’ transition center addresses these issues head-on, providing an easily-accessible and comprehensive network that makes getting help simple for at-risk youth.