Project HOPES’ Spring Fling a Success

BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene celebrates with families enrolled in the home-based training program for parents, Project HOPES

Photo: Father with his daughter

Every month, BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene holds an event for the families enrolled in Project HOPES, a child abuse prevention program that helps parents with children 0 to 5 years old.

On March 16, Project HOPES hosted a Spring Fling in the Family Life Center at the First Baptist Church of Abilene, open to all enrolled families as well as the public. The event celebrated the successful completion of the HOPES parenting program for several families with free skating, bowling, pizza and drinks courtesy of BCFS-Abilene.

BCFS-Abilene Parent Educator Kelly Davis said the main goal of the event was to provide a stress-free environment to help facilitate bonding between parents and their children.

At every Project HOPES event, parents receive information or resources to help them overcome any obstacle that stands in the way of their family’s well-being. In March, Project HOPES provided informative packets to families on how to get their kids to eat healthier, tips on shopping for healthy foods, and included several delicious meal recipes.

April is “National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month”

BCFS Health and Human Services’ San Antonio Transition Center Programs Aim to End Child Abuse

According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, last year more than 66,000 children in Texas were victims of abuse or neglect, and more than 17,000 were removed from their homes for their own protection. As the nation marks April as “National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month,” local BCFS Health and Human Services parenting education programs work to prevent child abuse year-round.

Every year, more than 2,000 families participate in parenting education programs, support groups and counseling at the BCFS San Antonio Transition Center. During a typical weekly family workshop, parents and caregivers are taught how to resolve stress, discipline children in a healthy way, and receive help accessing community resources. Classes include hands-on activities focused on positive parent-child communication, and intimate group discussions that help parents reaffirm their strengths and gain confidence. Free counseling is also offered to families in Spanish and English that includes a child abuse prevention training and crisis intervention.

Miriam Attra, BCFS Director of Community Based Services for San Antonio, believes educating parents is the key to stopping cycles of child abuse. “Oftentimes, parents in high-risk households treat their children the way their parents treated them, in some cases not knowing it’s actually abusive behavior,” says Attra. “But when we teach parents how to respond in difficult situations—like how to calm a toddler’s tantrum or bond with an impulsive teenager—they’re less likely to fall back on old, unhealthy habits.”

Parenting education and support groups are offered through Precious Minds New Connections, funded by the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, and Texas Families Together and Safe, funded by Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Counseling and crisis intervention is provided through the Services To At Risk Youth program.

To connect directly with San Antonio families during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, BCFS participated in Fiesta de los Niños on April 18th, the official Fiesta event for children. Fiesta de los Niños featured a parade through Port San Antonio, games, rides and musical performances. Parent educators with BCFS’ child abuse prevention programs joined in the fun, parading down the street in true Fiesta fashion sporting hats they decorated themselves. BCFS’ parent educators will also attend the United Way Kids’ festival on April 25th.

Program Director Whitney Vela says joining Fiesta events is one way BCFS invites local families to participate in parent support groups. “When parents and caregivers come together at our support groups, they’re reminded that they’re not alone,” says Vela. “They can lean on BCFS and a network of other parents to learn how to create a safe and loving home environment. It really does ‘take a village,’ as they say, and BCFS works to build villages around folks that need support.”

In addition to parenting education, the BCFS San Antonio Transition Center serves youth in foster care and young adults struggling to transition to adulthood by providing case management, counseling, mentorships, and assistance with education, employment and housing location.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services urges community members to report suspected child abuse by calling 1-800-252-5400. Signs of abuse include unexplained injuries, aggressive or withdrawn behavior, a child’s fear of seeing their parents, and malnourishment.

For more information about BCFS’ San Antonio Transition Center and child abuse prevention, visit or call (210) 733-7932.

Parent support groups in Kerrville improve family communication and offer summer fun giveaways

In every parent’s mind there runs a continuous ticker of nagging questions, like how do I get my teenager to follow curfew, do their chores, or be kind to their siblings? Or what will make my young child act appropriately in public, stop interrupting, or do their schoolwork? Some parents call friends or family for advice, others search the internet for parenting tips – but some local moms and dads are turning to new support groups that use an evidence-based curriculum and strategies to answer their questions.

These free parenting support groups aimed at strengthening families, called Texas Families: Together and Safe (TFTS), meet weekly to discover how to improve communication, manage stress and resolve conflict within the family. The groups are led by BCFS Health and Human Services’ Kerrville Transition Center.

“Every parent wants to see their child succeed in their education, personal relationships and overall well-being, and many parents look for ways to improve their skills so their child can truly excel,” says Terri Hipps, executive director of BCFS’ Community Services Division. “The moms and dads who participate in our groups learn a lot from one another’s experiences, gain confidence and see that they’re not alone in the struggle to maintain a loving, nurturing home environment.”

Program participants are included in drawings to win prizes that include an Xbox One gaming console worth $500, and assorted packages worth $150 each including a Samsung Galaxy Tab Lite, a Samsung digital camera and digital frame, and a family gift bag of games and movies. Door prizes including gift cards are given away weekly at each group meeting.

“Too often it can be a thankless job to raise a family. So we want to reward families who take the initiative to participate in the meetings by offering prize giveaways that help family members come together for fun, bonding experiences,” says Hipps.

BCFS’ Kerrville Transition Center serves local youth, helping them transition to adulthood and independence by providing case management, counseling, mentorships, assistance with education, employment and housing location, and transitional living apartments. Youth served at the center are in the foster care system, juvenile justice, or at-risk of issues like poverty, homelessness or dropping out of school.

In recent years the transition center rapidly outgrew its small facility, so in early April community leaders gathered on Main Street to break ground on a brand new 20,000 square foot building set to open in early 2015. The new center, named the BCFS Health and Human Services Hill Country Transition Center, will house five non-profits and is expected to serve more than 4,000 children and families annually.

For more information about parent support groups through BCFS’ Kerrville Transition Center, visit or call (830) 928-9267.

To support the work of the transition center by donating, contact Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie at (830) 896-0993, give securely online, or send checks to 1105 East Main Street, Kerrville, Texas 78028.