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.

Community Leaders Break Ground on New BCFS Transition Center

Kerrville’s civic and community leaders came together to celebrate the groundbreaking of Kerrville’s new youth transition center. The building, which is set to open in early 2015, will serve more than 4,000 children and families annually, house five non-profits, and be known as the BCFS Health and Human Services Hill Country Transition Center.

Transition center will be “one stop shop” for services that break cycles of poverty and foster self-sufficiency in young adults

Civic and community leaders – including Kerr County Judge Tom Pollard, County Commissioner Tom Moser, Mayor Jack Pratt, City Manager Todd Parton, City Councilmen Stacie Keeble and Carson Conklin, and Superintendent Dr. Dan Troxell – today came together to celebrate the groundbreaking of Kerrville’s new youth transition center. The building, which is set to open in early 2015, will serve more than 4,000 children and families annually, house five non-profits, and be known as the BCFS Health and Human Services Hill Country Transition Center.
The nearly 20,000 square foot center will be the centerpiece of the non-profit block located on Main Street. The land is being provided by the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country and JM Lowe & Company will construct the facility, which will be home to BCFS Health and Human Services, Partners in Ministry-Vision Youth, Families & Literacy, Inc., and Art2Heart.
The “one stop” service model that was first established by BCFS Health and Human Services in Kerrville in 2007 no longer exists due to program and partner growth, as well as a significant increase in demand for services. To reestablish the efficient and effective “one stop” model, The Cailloux Foundation set forth a $500,000 challenge grant to build a larger center. Several private foundations and individual philanthropists have also contributed to the capital campaign. Last month, BCFS – the parent company of BCFS Health and Human Services – announced an investment of up to $1.3 million to build the facility. BCFS Board of Trustees Chairman Bobby Feather said that gift was made in honor of Babs Baugh, who has served on the BCFS board for more than 25 years and was described as the organization’s “matriarch.”
BCFS Health and Human Services’ new Hill Country Transition Center will serve youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system, struggling families, and those facing other challenges impeding their success. The shared space model emphasizes accountability in the youth it serves; ensures non-duplication of existing services; and promotes efficiency through the leveraging of shared talents and resources. In the new center, teens, young adults and families will be able to receive counseling, case management, access to medical care, emergency housing assistance, life skills training, literacy training, educational support, and connections to employment and educational opportunities all under one roof.

BCFS’ YouthBuild Program Helps a New Class of Young Adults Gain Experience and Educational Success

Twenty-seven young adults have joined the current class for BCFS Health and Human Services’ (BCFS HHS) YouthBuild project. The full-time program helps young adults earn their GED or high school diploma while getting hands-on training to enter the workplace, start a career in construction, or begin college. The seventeen boys and ten girls in the current program hail from Ingram, Kerrville, Bandera, and surrounding communities.

“Dropping out of school is never a good idea. But making this choice – either because a teenager is rebelling or feels like they need to start working – should not be an irreversible decision that sentences them to struggling for the rest of their lives,” said Terri Hipps, executive director of BCFS HHS’ Community Services Division. “YouthBuild is a second chance for young adults who want to work hard and get back on track toward building a brighter, more prosperous future.”

In just a month’s time, participants have already received their OSHA 10, First Aid and CPR certifications. By the time they graduate in August, youth will also be certified in another valuable knowledge and vocational base: construction. BCFS HHS is working with Partners in Ministry’s Home Rehab program, providing home repairs for low-income families.

BCFS HHS’ YouthBuild program is part of the organization’s multifaceted Kerrville Transition Center offerings. The center, currently located at 1105 East Main, was founded in Kerrville five years ago as a “one stop” facility that offers counseling, case management, medical care, and emergency housing. The center also helps with life skills training, literacy training, educational support, and employment connections to former foster youth, youth in the juvenile justice system, high school drop outs and homeless young adults.

Because other non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community partners are working at the center with BCFS HHS, services are more easily accessed by youth and existing resources are not wastefully duplicated elsewhere. This methodology also boosts innovation through shared talents and stretches financial resources to support many missions.

Since opening, BCFS HHS’ Kerrville Transition Center has helped thousands of homeless and struggling youth find the resources they need to get their lives on track and grow into self-sufficient, law-abiding and employed adults. This year, the center is set to help more than 4,000 struggling young adults in our area.

One formidable achievement of the center is its ability to reduce and prevent crime. Among the youth served by BCFS HHS’ transition center who have gotten in trouble for gateway activities like truancy, or those who have actually served time, 87 percent did not reoffend at least one year after receiving help from BCFS HHS.

Due to an exponential increase in demand for services and growth of program offerings, the center’s operations now spill out into different locations – negating the effectiveness of the “one stop” model. This is one reason why the Cailloux Foundation put forward a $500,000 challenge grant to build a new 16,000 square foot center. To complete the project, BCFS HHS is leading a $1.9 million capital campaign, titled Step Up for Youth.

The organization has already surpassed the $1 million fundraising mark. Once complete, the center will house other non-profits like Art to Heart, Families in Literacy, and Partners in Ministry Vision Youth. This new center, which is located on a non-profit campus managed by the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country, will create a dynamic synergism among the agencies, increase their effectiveness, as well as cut down costs for all nonprofits. Ultimately, the center will be the most robust site for care and compassion for Hill Country youth.