Del Rio Judges Celebrate 10 Years of Serving Youth and Families through BCFS Health and Human Services Partnership
BCFS hosts appreciation breakfast honoring five local Judges
DEL RIO – In ten years of partnership with BCFS Health and Human Services, Del Rio judges have referred thousands of youth and families to the organization for crisis intervention, counseling and domestic violence services. To celebrate this partnerhip, BCFS hosted an appreciation breakfast June 18 for Justices of the Peace Hilda C. Lopez, Pat Cole, Jim Bob Barrera and Antonio Faz III, as well as County Judge Efrain Valdez.
Every month, the judges collectively order about 30 teens, young adults and families to participate in BCFS programs, mostly for misdemeanors or truancy. According to BCFS director Raquel Frausto Rodriguez, the judges review their dockets ahead of time and invite BCFS case managers into the courtroom to give on-the-spot referrals.
In many cases, the judges will defer fines or court costs, or clear the offense from the record if the youth or family joins a BCFS program and receives a certificate of completion. Rodriguez calls this longtime partnership an honor and a privilege.
“We work closely to identify the issues that are the root cause of each teen’s misbehavior or poor choices,” says Rodriguez. “If a student faces truancy charges and a judge sends them to us, BCFS works with the youth and family as a whole to find the real problem. Maybe they don’t have a car, or are being bullied at school, or they suffer abuse in the home. Perhaps their parents need them to go to work instead to pay the bills.”
BCFS operates the Services To At Risk Youth program, known as STAR, which aims to reduce family conflict and prevent delinquent behaviors, running away, and child abuse by helping youth and their families learn to resolve crises and develop coping and parenting skills. It includes free counseling, support groups, trainings, basic needs support, and emergency respite placements.
BCFS’ domestic violence program provides safety, support and resources to victims of abuse, as well as promotes violence-free relationships and abuse prevention.
“The youth of our community are our leaders of tomorrow,” said Precinct 2 Justice Faz. “Having the ability to intervene at a young age and the possibility of turning their lives around means that we as a community have succeeded.”
Even after the courtroom referral, the judges stay in close contact with BCFS.
“We keep the lines of communication open with our judges and work hand-in-hand to see how we can remove any barriers our families face,” says BCFS’ Rodriguez. “Sometimes all they need is transportation, childcare or basic assistance to come to counseling sessions or classes.”
Judge Valdez, who has served the community for 35 years, calls himself an “advocate” of BCFS programs.
“Seeing firsthand the dedication of the BCFS staff and the outstanding results that our youth and families experience has inspired me greatly,” Precinct 3 Justice Cole shared at the breakfast.
Justice Barrera (Precinct 1) recalled a memorable case he referred to BCFS.
“Back in April, a teenage girl from Mexico was attending school here in Del Rio. It was hard for her to socialize in the new environment,” said Barrera. “When she finished the BCFS class, she improved her grades to As and Bs. For me and my staff, it was something wonderful for us to have shared with her.”
Justice Lopez (Precinct 4) expressed her thanks to BCFS at the breakfast for “not giving up on people who do not realize they are in need of help.”
She added, “What inspires me to connect people to BCFS is the staff who show their concern and want to help people. BCFS’ services are inspiring because we can advise people of what is out there for them.”
The appreciation breakfast was held at Lighthouse United Pentecostal Church in Del Rio Thursday, June 18. The staff members of all five judges, who play a key role in assisting youth and families alongside BCFS, were also in attendance.
To learn more about BCFS Health and Human Services, or to support BCFS’ local programs, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/DelRio.
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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. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.