BCFS’ McAllen Transition Center Expands to Serve Youth and Families

Photo: Young woman ringing Job Bell

MCALLEN – Whenever a teen or young adult at the BCFS McAllen Transition Center gets a job, they get to ring the “Job Bell” to the sound of cheers and applause from staff. After hosting a Career Education Workshop last week for local youth looking for employment, the BCFS team is looking forward to a lot of bell-ringing.

The BCFS McAllen Transition Center serves local youth and families in need, providing assistance with education, employment and housing location, lifeskills courses, and parenting education.

BCFS opened the transition center in 2012 to help youth aging out of foster care prepare for independent living, but the facility has seen rapid growth and now also provides child abuse prevention programs, rehabilitation for youth in the juvenile justice system, parenting support groups, and services for any youth struggling with poverty, homelessness or a turbulent home life.

Serving about 200 people each month, the center quickly outgrew its office space. Their team of case managers, facilitators, mentoring coordinators and family educators has tripled in the past year. Renovations were completed last month to accommodate new staff, and create more room for family counseling sessions and mentor meetings.

BCFS hosted an Open House Friday, January 23 inviting community leaders and other non-profits to tour the newly-renovated space and learn about their services. Representatives from BCFS’ community partners attended, including the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Tropical Behavior Center, Henry B. Gonzalez Elementary, RGV Play Therapy Center, and the Ramirez Center probation officers.

At the Career Education Workshop hosted by BCFS this month, young men and women in foster care and youth overcoming a past of criminal activity gathered to learn how to write a resume and prepare for a job interview, as well as complete a career inventory to assess what line of work suits them best.

“The youth we serve – like all teenagers – need to feel loved and supported,” said Marissa Cano, BCFS McAllen Transition Center Program Director. “Many of them were removed from their biological parents due to abuse or neglect and put in foster care. If they aren’t adopted, they age out of the system at 18 years old without a family. This lack of stability and accountability led some to make poor choices, but we help them overcome the trauma that makes them act out and work hard for a brighter future.”

This month, BCFS also hosted a seminar on AIDS awareness and sexual health in collaboration with the Valley AIDS organization.

“Our goal is to convey to our youth the importance of making smart choices when it comes to health and safety, and to connect them to resources that support these choices,” said Deyanira Garcia, case manager at the BCFS McAllen Transition Center.

About 950 families have graduated from BCFS’ parenting education program, which is aimed at reducing child abuse by teaching parents how to resolve conflict, improve communication, and deal with behavioral problems. Participating families meet weekly at the center or local schools, and receive childcare, transportation and necessities like food, diapers and clothing.

For more information about the BCFS McAllen Transition Center, call (956) 630-0010 or visit DiscoverBCFS.net/McAllen.