Celeste Garcia Named Executive Director – Community Services Division

Photo: Celeste Garcia

BCFS Health and Human Services has named Celeste Garcia as Executive Director of its Community Services Division. In this role, Garcia will oversee BCFS’ community-based operations, which offer services in every Texas county ranging from case management and counseling, to life skills trainings, parenting classes, college and vocational tuition vouchers for youth in foster care, shelter for young adults struggling with homelessness, and more. Garcia will assume this role on November 1.

Garcia currently serves as Associate Executive Director of BCFS’ Residential Services Division where she oversees foster care, adoption, post release and home study programs, with annual budgets totaling $16.5 million. Garcia also serves as a key liaison between BCFS and its government partners at the federal, state and local level, ensuring compliance, quality assurance, and positive program outcomes for the children, youth and families served.

Under Garcia’s leadership, BCFS’ regional offices across the country continually receive high rankings from federal partners and third party advocacy groups that laud the organization for consistently delivering critical services for children and families in need with exceptional speed, scalability, and quality.

“Celeste is a dynamic leader who invigorates her team and delivers top notch programming,” said Asennet Segura, BCFS Chief Operating Officer. “I know she will not only strengthen our current programs, but also be key in leveraging BCFS locations in other states across the nation to expand our agency’s reach to more children and families in need.”

When she served as National Program Director of BCFS’ Post Release and Home Study Services, Garcia spearheaded the opening of regional offices strategically located around the nation to serve children and families reunited after a separation that sometimes spanned years. Garcia has worked closely with the U.S. departments of Justice, Homeland Security and key international diplomats to ensure BCFS’ operations filled gaps for unmet needs, and exceeded contract requirements.

“Throughout her tenure at BCFS, Celeste has maintained a laser focus on a singular, critical mission: ensuring the best quality placements and environments for children and youth in our care,” said Kevin Dinnin, BCFS President.

Garcia has 14 years of experience advocating for children and families. She earned her Masters of Science in Social Administration at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

BCFS Health and Human Services’ Community Services Division operates centers across Texas that serve youth from the foster care system, teens struggling with homelessness, poverty or a history of abuse, youth in the juvenile justice system, and families. At BCFS centers, youth receive case management, counseling, and assistance with education, employment and housing. Parent support groups and parenting education programs educate families on how to improve communication, resolve conflict, and create a stable, safe home environment for their families.

BCFS Receives National Contract to Deploy Case Management Teams During Disasters

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

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

Kerrville Men Gather for a Hearty Breakfast, Raising More Than $31,000 for Local Youth

Nearly 200 local community and business leaders gathered for the Men’s “Field of Dreams” Steak and Eggs Benefit Breakfast, hosted by BCFS Health and Human Services. The event raised more than $31,000 toward furnishing BCFS’ new Texas Hill Country Resource Center, which will house multiple local non-profits with a common mission to serve youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system; families that are struggling; and those facing other challenges, like homelessness, substance abuse and unemployment.

Guest speaker Jimmy “The Rookie” Morris, whose life inspired the book and movie The Rookie, attended the breakfast to share inspirational words about not giving up on your dreams. Guests enjoyed a steak and eggs breakfast, live music and a viewing of classic cars at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Several major sponsors helped make the second annual event a great success, including Cecil Atkission Motors; Family Practice Associates; Trade-Mark Air Conditioning; The Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country; and the Kerrville Public Utility Board.
“BCFS is proud to be part of a community that is so in tune with the needs of its youth,” said Kevin Dinnin, BCFS President & CEO. “When we provide young men and women with educational and economic opportunity, and serve as a stabilizing force in their tumultuous lives, it’s good for the entire Hill Country community. The men that enjoyed breakfast with us are part of that stabilizing force for the next generation in Kerrville and beyond.”
Thanks to the support of many private foundations, individual philanthropists, and BCFS Health and Human Services’ own parent company – BCFS – the organization is building a new “one stop” resource center that will serve thousands of children and families annually and house several additional non-profits, including Art-2-Heart; Families & Literacy, Inc.; and New Hope Counseling Services.
The new “one stop center,” which will open its doors in 2015, will be a safe-haven and comprehensive place for resources that help local children, youth and families, many who are at-risk of homelessness, poverty or other challenges that could inhibit a successful transition into adulthood and independence. The center will provide case management, counseling, mentorships, assistance with education, employment and housing location.
Morris shared his story – brought to the big screen starring actor Dennis Quaid – recalling how he dreamed of playing major league baseball growing up, but injuries and life got in the way. Ten years after he walked away from the minor leagues, became a father and a high school baseball coach, he told his team if they won their local championship he would try out again for the big leagues. When he kept his word and tried out, he finally achieved his Big League, childhood dreams at the age of 35.
“Many of the youth we serve have suffered some kind of abuse or neglect in their past,” said Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie, BCFS Director of Development. “So Jimmy’s advice to never give up really resonates with our youth. This event will go a long way towards helping us continue our work with young people who are struggling.”

To support the work of the transition center by donating, contact Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie at (830) 928-9387, give securely online, or send checks to 550 Earl Garrett Suite 114, Kerrville, TX 78028.

BCFS Health and Human Services Awarded Grant to Strengthen Families throughout Texas

BCFS Health and Human Services is launching a new dynamic, community-based parenting program aimed at reconnecting, strengthening and empowering families to create positive environments for their children.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services awarded BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS) a five-year contract to lead a dynamic, community-based parenting program aimed at reconnecting, strengthening and empowering families to create positive environments for their children. The program, called Texas Families: Together and Safe (TFTS), will serve more than 2,100 families annually in Bexar, Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces and Kerr counties.

“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, BCFS HHS executive director of the 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 with children ages 3 to17, who do not have an open CPS case or a previously substantiated case of abuse or neglect, are eligible to participate in the program. TFTS’ lessons and tools are beneficial to any parent interested in learning how to bond with their children, while still guiding, supervising and disciplining them when necessary. Classes are especially suited for families with added stressors, like overworked parents, single parents, divorced couples, and foster parents – or anyone interested in learning how to create a healthier home for their child. Parents who participate in the ten-week course will receive wraparound support services, including referrals to other community providers and assistance meeting their basic needs.

The TFTS curriculum focuses on how to best:

  • Reduce conflict and improve family communication
  • Improve behavior problems in children
  • Deal with complicated, strong emotions
  • Validate a parent’s strengths
  • Deal with complex issues like aggression, alcohol and violence

Families interested in participating may visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/TFTS to learn more.