The Importance of Empathy

The BCC Compass – July 2022

 

Fostering a healthy culture where everyone can engage in joy and purpose is not just my job at the Board of Child Care (BCC). It’s everyone’s job. That’s why in times of upheaval and uncertainty, we all need to support each other.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. This ruling led to a range of feelings for people in our BCC community, ranging from ragged, raw and scared for the future to jubilant and relieved.

It’s hard to understand your own emotions, no less the emotions of others and the differences of opinions around the ruling. As the nation navigates this new environment, I’ve asked our team to use the core values of relationships and empathy to help support one another. Look for places of agreement and understanding. Focus on similarities rather than differences. Listen to colleagues and then share your own thoughts and feelings. Don’t make assumptions about others based on what your life is like. And most importantly, be respectful.

Along with peer support and empathy, BCC has a variety of services to help team members process this and other situations that cause stress, including a free Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

At BCC we know that it is our differences that make us a strong and inclusive workplace. Through these supports, we hope our entire team can continue to be their authentic and best selves.

Warmly,
LA Spagnola
President & CEO

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Building a Bulletin Board

The BCC Compass — June 2022

 

Big ideas don’t always start big.

Often, they start with a simple bulletin board.

When we launched the Board of Child Care’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee in 2020, we knew to achieve lasting, sustainable success, we couldn’t do everything at once. So, we added short-term, tangible goals to our bulletin board – goals we could build upon to enhance our long-term commitment to EDI.

Among those initial goals: incorporate more diverse voices on our Board of Directors.

At BCC, we are committed to honoring differences, acknowledging uniqueness and amplifying all voices. A culture of inclusivity empowers individuals at every level to enrich communities, one family at a time. A Board of Directors that only allows U.S. citizens as members is not inclusive.

I’m happy to share that we removed the citizen requirement from our by-laws at our June Board meeting earlier this month. That change allowed the Board at that same meeting to approve adding a new board member that is a Mexican citizen, attorney and a tremendous advocate for BCC and its programs.  This individual is beginning their Board orientation next month and will attend their first official meeting later in 2022.

Another goal: Improve our celebration and understanding of Juneteenth.

In 2021, just days before the federal government approved Juneteenth as a federal holiday, BCC put together its first Juneteenth celebration. Staff members who worked that day received double pay, and we organized meals at several BCC campuses. But we quickly realized we didn’t include enough staff in the planning for the day.

This year, we reached out to more staff members and received more feedback on how to celebrate Juneteenth. We also added more educational opportunities about the holiday so staff throughout BCC could gain a deeper understanding about the day’s meaning.

As each month passes, we add more goals to our bulletin board. It has become an amazing platform for our committee, and as a result, our entire team.

This month, I challenge you and your families to start your own EDI bulletin boards with your own professional or personal goals.

Warmly,
LA Spagnola
President & CEO

 

 

 

 

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Amplifying Hispanic & Latino Voices

The BCC Compass – May 2022

 

There’s beauty in the unexpected.

As we continue our work to become a more equitable, diverse and inclusive organization, I have witnessed more growth and positivity than I could have ever imagined.

I’m especially proud of our efforts to amplify Hispanic and Latino voices.

One example is our recent employee recruitment efforts for the Caminos program, which provides safe, secure placement options for children who have recently migrated to the United States and are seeking opportunities for reunification with family. About 80 percent of the children in the Caminos program are from Central America and speak Spanish, so it makes sense to hire team members who also speak Spanish.

Yet despite our usual recruitment and hiring efforts, we just weren’t reaching enough potential applicants. Last year, we began translating our recruitment materials into Spanish and posting flyers in Spanish community centers to encourage more applicants.

We also partnered with board member Gabriela “Gaby” Romo, who hosts a weekly radio show in Spanish about mental health. Board of Child Care team members are guests on the show, discussing our valuable resources with the Hispanic community.

And this spring, we added a “translate” option on the Board of Child Care website. Users can now view the site in English or Spanish.

As a result of these efforts and more, we’ve seen an increase in Spanish-speaking applicants.

We also continue to advocate for change in states like Pennsylvania, where child welfare staff must pass a medication administration test to give medicine to children. Currently, the test is only offered in English. Offering the test in Spanish or allowing a translator would help us be more inclusive and effective for those in need.

In closing, I’d like to give a special thanks to our Hispanic and Latino board members, who lend their voices and expertise to our organization every day. Roberto Allen and Gaby, none of this would be possible without your help. Thank you for your dedication to the Board of Child Care community! I look forward to welcoming even more Hispanic and Latino board members in the future.

Warmly,
LA Spagnola
President & CEO

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I Hear You

The BCC Compass – April 2022

 

Board of Child Care is committed to a healthy culture where everyone can engage with joy and purpose.  In order to achieve this kind of brave space, the agency relies on feedback from you. From Open Forums to anonymous comments provided in our online system and lots of things in between, I hear you and learn from you. This week, we kick off our semiannual, online employee survey – an important tool in measuring employees’ commitment, motivation and sense of purpose in their jobs and their views and attitudes toward our organization.

The survey is incredibly valuable, as it provides insight into what our employees need and want. It also helps me and other Board of Child Care leaders shape future policies and practices that remove barriers and build momentum so we can do our special work from an improving foundation. Some of the things we changed because of staff feedback include: more vacation time, more health insurance options and improved lighting in our communities to enhance safety. Asking staff for their ideas helps make BCC better in lots of different ways!

This year, in keeping with our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategic Plan, the employee survey will give us additional insights into how people identify and where the agency needs to focus to continue our journey with honoring differences, acknowledging uniqueness and amplifying all voices.  Our EDI committee helped us add several new questions to the survey, including:

  • Do you identify as transgender?
  • What is your family status?
  • What is your sexual orientation?
  • Are you a person with a disability?

We also added new statements where employees can share if they strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree or strongly disagree, including:

  • People are treated fairly regardless of their gender identity.
  • I believe I work in an inclusive workplace regarding class, gender, identity, race, religion, age and sexual orientation.
  • I believe staff members are treated fairly at the Board of Child Care.
  • When I speak up, my opinion is valued.

To protect employees’ identity, survey responses are anonymous. Employees can also select “prefer not to specify” on certain questions.

While I may not have the opportunity to personally meet every BCC employee, I spend hours reviewing each survey response to understand how we can make our employees’ lives and organization great. Thank you for providing feedback. I am hearing you.

Earlier this month, we also hosted our first ever Clinician Appreciation Day. It was tons of fun with more than 50 talented clinicians and interns gathering for a day of team-building, gratitude-sharing, restoration, crafts and food. Each participant also received two hours of paid time off for self-care. Self-care helps build our resilience so we can do our special work, enriching communities one family at a time.

The event was just one of the many ways we intentionally foster belongingness that feeds a deep sense of purpose and joy at BCC. Thank you, clinicians, for being part of our team!

Warmly,
LA Spagnola
President & CEO

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Open Forums Expand

The BCC Compass – March 2022

 

One year ago in West Virginia, we launched our Open Forums initiative – an opportunity for members of our BCC family to share ideas and maintain a culture where we can learn and grow together.

After an engaging discussion, forum participants were motivated to continue these crucial conversations and foster genuine relationships with one another.

That’s why I am incredibly excited that this year, we are implementing bi-annual Open Forums at each of BCC’s six campuses. It’s yet another way our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan 2022–2025 is helping our organization enhance a culture of assessment and accountability for inclusivity at every level.

The idea for these forums was born out of our racism town halls, which were held at our Early Learning Program in Washington D.C.

Here’s how the Open Forums work.

Before each event, leaders of individual campuses meet with EDI Committee members to learn about potential discussion topics and how to constructively receive feedback from staff.
Recognizing some topics may be hard to discuss or trigger emotional reactions, staff members start each forum by reviewing the “safety commitments.” These commitments help participants provide support to each other and give and receive feedback in a healthy and respectful manner.

Then, the discussions begin. After each forum, leaders take what was discussed and come up with solutions to address concerns and improve inclusivity.

For example, during a recent forum at BCC’s Mechanicsburg, PA campus, staff members said they wanted more education to better support LGBTQ+ youth who are transitioning. We are now incorporating intensive training based around the LGBTQ+ community and affirming care for leadership and staff.

To make it easy for all staff to attend the forums, we will offer both in-person and online options.

It’s amazing to see our staff courageously express what they want and need to feel connected to the people we serve and each other.

Our commitment is to amplify all voices. With these forums, we hope to create a safe space where people can open their minds and hearts to endless possibilities.

To learn when your next Open Forum takes place, please reach out to your senior campus leader.

Warmly,
Laurie Anne “LA” Spagnola
President & CEO

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Core Value Award Winner February 2022: Impact – Jasmyne Holloway

The Board of Child Care would like to recognize Jasmyne Holloway as the February 2022 Core Value Award winner for Impact!

The Board of Child Care would like to recognize Jasmyne Holloway as the February 2022 Core Value Award winner for Impact!

Jasmyne's nomination reads:

"Nurse Jasmyne is one of the most determined nurses on campus who is persistent, persevering, assertive, and goes after what she wants without allowing the obstacles to hinder her. One story that touched everyone was when she was completing a youth’s assessment with another staff (Ms. Maria). She asked the youth, “How are you feeling?”, and the youth did not respond. Jasmyne asked again, “are you sad?” the youth looked down and said “yes”. With a caring gesture, Ms. Jasmyne and Ms. Maria asked the youth if he would like to see his sister, to which he said “yes”. Ms. Jasmyne went to the sister’s cottage to bring over the youth’s sister. As Ms. Jasmyne was doing this, Ms. Maria reassured the youth that (BCC) was different from where he and his sister had been placed previously and that he wouldn’t be separated from his sister."

Congratulations, Jasmyne, and thank you!

 

Impact Drives Lasting Change

We seek to make lasting change in the lives of those we work with by providing services that are inclusive, measurable, and durable. We maximize our impact by investing in staff and board development. Feedback presents opportunity for action, which enhances and strengthens our programs and their outcomes.

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Core Value Award Winner February 2022: Empathy – Mackenzie Tamblin

The Board of Child Care would like to recognize Mackenzie Tamblin as the February 2022 Core Value Award winner for Empathy!

The Board of Child Care would like to recognize Mackenzie Tamblin as the February 2022 Core Value Award winner for Empathy!

Mackenzie's nomination reads:

"Mackenzie was given the very hard task of informing a youth their mother passed away due to COVID. This is news that no person is ever prepared to communicate and one of the hardest tasks a therapist can face. Mackenzie did an amazing job seeking consultation with supervisors, safety planning for the youth potentially going into crisis, and preparing the treatment team for how the information would be communicated to the youth. Mackenzie then had to deliver the news to the youth and did so in a trauma-informed manner, allowing space for the youth to experience his grief, and was a calming presence in a time of turmoil. The empathy that Mackenzie felt for this youth was apparent in all of the conversations and planning she had leading up to sharing this news with the youth."

Congratulations, Mackenzie, and thank you!

 

Listen and Respond with Empathy

Empathy will guide our programming and culture at all levels. A supportive work and program environment means valuing the voices of all people, ensuring equitable representation, and growing a desire to know and understand others. We recognize that with empathy we will better understand what type of care and encouragement to provide.

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Core Value Award Winner February 2022: Relationships – Julian Coppola-Zahavi

The Board of Child Care would like to recognize Julian Coppola-Zahavi as the February 2022 Core Value Award winner for Relationships!

The Board of Child Care would like to recognize Julian Coppola-Zahavi as the February 2022 Core Value Award winner for Relationships!

Ms. Julian's nomination reads:

"Jules is our Regional Navigator for human trafficking survivors in Anne Arundel County. One of the aspects of Jules' job is forming community partnerships to increase awareness and identification of human trafficking. Jules partnered with Anne Arundel County Public Schools to deliver a pilot virtual training on human trafficking to high school seniors last year, and the program was such a success that Jules has been invited back on numerous occasions this school year to present in high school health classes across the county. We appreciate Jules' work to sustain relationships with this important community partner, not only because relationships are a Core Value but also because of the positive impact this work is having on students. Thank you, Jules!"

Congratulations, Ms. Julian, and thank you!

 

Foster Relationships within our Community

Openness and honesty with all stakeholders make for both the best program outcomes and team culture. Inclusive practices are the building blocks for trust. We create space for conversations that grow transparency about our decisions, promises, and understanding of one another.

 

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Core Value Award Winner February 2022: Safety – Selina Aviles

The Board of Child Care would like to recognize Selina Aviles as the February 2022 Core Value Award winner for Safety!

The Board of Child Care would like to recognize Selina Aviles as the February 2022 Core Value Award winner for Safety!

Ms. Selina's nomination reads:

"Ms. Selina is a Unit Supervisor for the girls' unit in the Caminos Program in West Virginia. Ms. Selina exemplifies safety on a daily basis. We recently have had several vacancies for Campus Supervisor and Ms. Selina is always quick to fill the vacancy without hesitation while ensuring her tasks are complete for her position as well, ensuring safety for the entire campus, and for all three programs. BCC is safer and better with Selina. We thank you Ms. Selina, te agradezco mucho."

Congratulations, Ms. Selina, and thank you!

 

Safety as A Mindset

We value life, spirit, and health above all else and take action to maintain the safety of our workplaces, programs, and services through a trauma responsive lens. We are personally accountable for our own safety and collectively responsible for the mental, emotional, and physical safety of our community.

 

 

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40 Days of Positivity 2022 Calendar

As we find ourselves waiting for Spring to arrive, much like a Pennsylvanian groundhog ducking back into his borough, it is easy to only focus on the dark parts of the story that surround us.

While looking forward to warmer days, shorter nights, and the celebration of Easter, Passover, and Ostara, we encourage everyone to seek out positivity in our thoughts and actions.

Here at BCC, we use the model of the western Christian observance of Lent, a period of self-reflection in the 40 days leading up to the celebration of Easter. As a diverse and interfaith organization, we encourage our community to seek out the good and the positive in a time where darkness can be so prevalent.

To help in this endeavor, we have developed a 40 day calendar with prompts for thoughts and actions modeled around the core values of BCC. We encourage everyone to participate in this as a joint effort for team members, residents, and our surrounding communities.

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