Securing Families in Transit

One of the greatest tragedies of the death and injury caused by vehicle accidents is that, many times, the problem can be prevented. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that three out of four children’s car seats are not properly installed, and, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States.


by Monica Calderon


The colonias of Webb County, Texas, are neighborhoods faced with substandard living conditions, often occupied by families impoverished and in need. The new-born infants and toddlers in these communities, like all children, require special care when traveling from place to place in a vehicle. Seeing the need to protect children, no matter the financial situation of their families, BCFS Health and Human Services’ Healthy Start Laredo program (HSL) was awarded a grant to provide car seats to low-income families

Proper installation of a child seat

Since beginning work with vehicle safety, HSL has teamed up with the Texas Department of Transportation to support child safety initiatives across the state. Recently, HSL became a member of the Safe Riders Child Safety Seat Distribution and Education Program through the Texas Department of State Health Services. As members of this community service program, HSL can conduct educational classes and distribute car seats to families in the regions that need it most.

By providing safety seats to families, not only does HSL reduce the number of potential injuries and deaths that come from children being improperly secured in a vehicle, it also ensures families are able to comply with state laws requiring children under the age of eight to ride in a car seat, lowering the chances that financially-struggling families will have to add fines of up to $250 to their economic uncertainty.

In addition to the donation of car seats, Healthy Start Laredo provides families with training to properly buckle up children when it’s time to travel. HSL staff received extensive training from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which they now pass on to families in Webb County.

BCFS Health and Human Services is the first health and human services agency to be part of the Safe Riders Child Safety Seat Distribution and Education Program in Laredo, Texas. HSL is enthusiastic about the opportunity they’ve been given to secure lives through the empowerment and education of the community. The program identified a need and built an initiative through a variety of opportunities.

Making a positive difference deep in the heart of Texas, one child at a time, HSL’s car seat only one example of how a dedicated program is having a big impact on a community in need.


by Alana Jeter


The D.R.I.V.E. Safe Coalition creates awareness about the critical importance of properly installing a car seat, harnessing a child correctly in a car seat, and reducing the number of traffic-related injuries and deaths on Texas roads. With the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), D.R.I.V.E Safe and BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene have partnered to deliver traffic safety knowledge to families in Abilene.

Through BCFS Health and Human Services HOPES (Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support) parent education course, parent educators have integrated traffic safety as part of a curriculum designed to provide community-based, family-centric programs that support families with young children 0-5 years of age to work through any barrier they may be facing.

BCFS-Abilene’s Parent Educators have been educated through traffic safety training, earning certification as a Child Passenger Safety Technician. Their certification enabled a partnership with the D.R.I.V.E safe coalition that allows parent educators to attend monthly Car Seat Check-Up events co-hosted by the Abilene Fire Department and other community organizations.

The Car Seat Check Up events help keep kids and families safe. Together with other technicians, HOPES parent educators provide individualized, hands-on instruction to parents for correctly installing a child safety seat into their vehicle, the different adjustments that allow a parent to customize the car seat based on their child’s height and weight, and how to correctly secure a child in a car seat. Parents can also find out if a car seat is expired and make arrangements for an exchange.

The partnership between BCFS-Abilene and the D.R.I.V.E Safe Coalition allows our parent educators to effectively add transportation safety education to an array of case management services and resource referral with the mission of providing wraparound services to help a family succeed, both at home and on the road.

CDC seat belt statistics

Inauguran La Semana Binacional de Salud

Super Channel 12 | October 5, 2018

Las actividades de la XVIII Semana Binacional de Salud darán inicio hoy sábado

Por Hervey Sifuentes 

Del Rio, TX – Con la participación de autoridades de esta población, representantes de Ciudad Acuña y del Consulado de Guatemala en esta frontera, se llevó a cabo la inauguración de la XVIII Semana Binacional de Salud en el Consulado de México.

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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

BCFS Case Manager Named Statewide Healthy Start “Distinguished Practitioner of the Year”

The Texas Healthy Start Alliance has named BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) Laura Echeverria “Distinguished Practitioner of the Year.” This honor recognizes individuals with exceptional professional achievement and leadership in maternal and child health, and who make selfless contributions to their community with the aim of improving the health of women, children and families.

“Laura approaches her work with such selflessness and compassion,” said Cindi Garcia, executive director of BCFS HHS’ Community-based Services Division. “Her own experience as an immigrant to this country allows her to make very special connections with our mothers, earning their trust so they allow us to provide them with critical medical care that ensures their babies are born healthy and strong.”

“We are proud of Laura and congratulate her on this award,” she continued.

Echeverria began her career as a registered nurse and certified promotora in Mexico. Thirty years ago she immigrated to the United States, yet found that her credentials would not be recognized. She therefore worked in hotel housekeeping for 18 years while she learned English and obtained the experience and credentials she needed to return to her life’s work. She has served with BCFS Health and Human Services for 12 years, and is presently a case manager for the organization’s Healthy Start Laredo program. During this time, Echeverria is credited with the healthy pregnancy and successful delivery of thousands of healthy new babies.

BCFS HHS’ Healthy Start Laredo program was established in 2001 in 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 Laredo 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