BCFS Health and Human Services was awarded $7.5 million over five years from the Office of Family Assistance, an office of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, to operate ConnectEd, a new program in Bexar County, Texas. ConnectEd, developed and to be administered by BCFS Health and Human Services Community Services Division, will advance services for youth exiting the foster care system. The program will serve young people ages 16 to 24, working to improve the quality of the service population’s relationships, marriages, parenting and economic outcomes by mitigating the trauma-related barriers these youth experience.
The program will use evidence-based interventions to help participants learn and practice positive relationship skills, pursue and retain meaningful employment, and develop a network of healthy peer support critical to overall success.
ConnectEd will augment BCFS Health and Human Services’ existing suite of effective and highly respected programs that have a proven track record and strongly support youth when leaving the foster care system. Often these individuals have endured not only the abuse and neglect that led to their entry into the system, but also relational trauma and harm inflicted by the very adults charged with caring for and protecting them.
BCFS Health and Human Services is excited to partner with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) in rolling out ConnectEd. UTSA will conduct an impact evaluation of the program. Other community partners of ConnectEd include Family Violence Prevention Services and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. “We are very excited about ConnectEd,” said Kimberley Rodriguez, Regional Director of Central Texas at BCFS Health and Human Services Community Services Division. “This program was thoughtfully created understanding the challenges that our youth in foster care experience, learned by working with this population for over a decade. ConnectEd aims to provide our youth with the relationship skills needed to help them in their personal lives as well as a work environment, which is one of the main challenges that our youth in foster care struggle with. We expect to see a substantial increase in our youth getting jobs and keeping them. In addition, we also expect to see them attain stable housing and a reduction in youth in crisis.”