Mathis posthumously receives MANSEF award June 6

DSC_6080Jim Mathis, who served on the Board of Directors for the Board of Child Care for 19 years, will be honored June 6 with the 2016 Distinguished Citizen Award from the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF).

Mathis died July 15, 2015 at age 78 and grew up in the Strawbridge home in Eldersburg, MD. His widow, Lois Mathis will accept the award on his behalf. Two of Mathis’s brothers and his daughter, Amy, plan to attend the ceremony.

Mathis was profiled May 24 in the Carroll County Times by reporter Jon Kelvey. Read the entire article here. Mathis was featured on Page 19 of the Board of Child Care’s 2015 Annual Report, which is available for download here.

Described as “the ultimate advocate and volunteer for BCC during his lifetime,” in that 2015 annual report, Mathis led several committees and served a term as chairman, and was the driving force behind the Strawbridge alumni program.

A residential cottage was named in Mathis’s honor in 2012 and the Jim and Lois Mathis Award For Service and Community Scholarship is given annually to a current program participant.

Mathis believed in education above all else and would often visit the campus and encourage BCC’s children to persevere and to seek a diploma despite the difficulties they experience, his own life serving as a sterling example. He gifted plenty of financial resources to BCC over the years, none greater than a kind and gentle spirit to all he encountered, especially the children who are part of the Strawbridge School, the namesake of his childhood home with BCC.

Mathis was a regular at events or graduations, reminding all of us that commitment to our children sends a clear message of love and respect.

MANSEF is a professional association of publicly-funded private schools. The Distinguished Citizen Award is given annually and has traditionally recognized a board member, stakeholder or volunteer at one of the member schools within the association who has demonstrated a willingness to exceed expectations in fulfilling the mission of the organization he or she represents.

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BCC now providing Functional Family Therapy in WVa.

GREETINGS FR. MARTINSBURG, WVA!The good news is in! – Board of Child Care’s Martinsburg residential campus received approval last week from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to begin providing Functional Family Therapy (FFT), a community-based service that will be provided on an outpatient basis.

Neighboring states Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania already offer FFT.

*Read/Download the FFT Press Release*

Recognized internationally for helping youth overcome trouble with delinquency, substance abuse, and violence, the economic benefits of FFT are significant, too. A 2008 outcomes analysis showing every FFT dollar the State of Pennsylvania invested, it received a cost benefit of $14.56, a potential economic benefit of $136 million to the taxpayers.

In Maryland, the average cost per treatment of FFT in fiscal year 2014 was only 4% of the average cost per stay of hardware-secure youth centers and 8% of the average cost per stay of group homes.

“The ability to serve WV families with in-home therapy is exactly the kind of community-based programing we want to offer,” said Laurie Anne Spagnola, BCC’s President and CEO. “We offer excellent residential and group home services. But keeping a young person together with their family is truly an example of our mission to enrich communities, one family at a time.”

Typically conducted over 12 sessions, FFT spans 3-5 months and helps families strengthen their ability to work together and successfully solve problems. Community demand for the program forced BCC to turn away referrals in advance of the state license approval.

“There is a lack of access to mental health services in this area and I hope to see BCC provide additional outpatient or community-based offerings in the future,” said Jackie Columbia, BCC’s Director of West Virginia Operations.


Oct. 26, 2015:    WV DHHR solicits applications from behavioral health providers.
Nov. 19, 2015:   Board of Child Care submits application to provide FFT
Nov. 23, 2015:   WV DHHR closes application period.
Dec. 8, 2015:     BCC awarded grant to train its WV social workers in FFT.
Feb. 22, 2016:   BCC hosts a state of WV kickoff event and FFT training session on Martinsburg campus.
May 5, 2016:     Official notice from WV DHHR approves BCC to provide FFT.
May 10, 2016:   Board of Child Care begins accepting FFT referrals.

Read more from BCC now providing Functional Family Therapy in WVa.

Saying YESS to better participant outcomes

New programming initiative is another move towards evidence-based success

With a long-term goal of saying yes to more consistent, positive outcomes, the Board of Child Care’s Baltimore and Denton campuses have embarked upon the YESS programming platform.

YESS stands for Youth Engagement Success System. The core components of the YESS platform are Respectful, Responsible, Safe and Self. The program teaches good decision-making skills, deters negative behaviors and pushes program participants to work toward unity and personal goals through choice-making challenges.

The four core components are broken down around how they relate to treatment, the community, education and workplaces, and family support systems. BCC staff, who embody the acronym for the role model, engagement, professional and safety (REPS), administer the YESS system. The REPS are responsibilities for teaching, addressing, correcting and reinforcing positive behavior with residents.

Residents in the program receive privileges related to a given category, and there are certain things a youth can have based on where they are in the program. As choices are made by residents as to what they are to participate in on the unit, there are rewards or consequences for some choices, and these are based on what a natural consequence would be in life for certain behaviors.

Rewards outstrip consequences, but for a certain category of offenses, REPS have a pool of consequences at their disposal created from logical, natural outcomes. In rare cases, enacting an extended safety plan beyond the pool of consequences is available when safety demands it.

By being able to choose how involved they want to be in the program, the residents can control their outcomes on a micro level, leading to more control on a macro level, too. BCC will collect data over the next year to chart outcomes for participants engaging in the YESS Program.


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BCC Spotlight: ALEXANDRA GLOVER, LGSW and Care Team Coordinator

Alexandra Glover
Alexandra Glover

Glover earned an April promotion to Care Team Coordinator, where she will assist with integration and implementation of programming on Baltimore’s upper campus. Known at BCC as Alex, she’s a 2009 graduate of the University of Kentucky — Go Cats! — and secured her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland in 2014.

Q: Before you became a social worker, you were an on-call childcare worker and later interned with our Treatment Foster Care team while you attended graduate school. What was your perspective those first few months – how has it changed? – and how did those challenges prepare you for your present caseload and responsibilities?

A: I went from a person focused solely on doing one job to dispersing my energy into many areas at once. The challenge was to find the balance in juggling work, school, and the internship while ensuring the multitasking would not affect my work and relationships built with my youth. I had many ‘aha moments’ in those first few months of grad school and still have them. It is all part of being a social worker … You need some grit in this field, because it’s not for everyone, but it is for me.

Those challenges and experiences have aided me many times when I had a demanding week and was not sure where to start. Prioritizing tasks and figuring out what is important is how you win the day.

Q: Your second graduate school internship was with Johns Hopkins Hospital, but you choose a full-time offer from BCC over Hopkins after graduation. What made BCC your top pick?

A: I was fortunate to have to decide between BCC and Hopkins, but the decision was not difficult. I had fallen in love with residential treatment and felt like BCC was already my home. I like being in a setting where social work and mental health were the top priorities, whereas in the hospital medical needs were understandably put first. I also wanted to work in a position where I could build long-term therapeutic and working relationships with clients, families, and agencies.

Q: Can you talk about how your progression from childcare worker four years ago to intern to social worker to coordinator helps shape the therapeutic strategies you employ in your new position?

A: We speak of our participants from a programming or clinical standpoint, and I am blessed with some background in both, so my progression shapes strategies daily. Residential care is constantly evolving; the challenges I faced as a childcare worker are different today, but I know both perspectives.

I am excited about my new position because it is completely in line with BCC’s new mission. This is a way to bridge BCC’s work from a clinical and programming standpoint from a time where we were separate to being truly integrated.

Q: You said the diverse team that supports the kids we serve is vitally important to achieving successful outcomes. What makes this so?

A: We are tasked with designing and executing a program that completely wraps care around an individual. This means the more obvious categories like education, physical health, and providing housing.

It also includes the intangibles such as teaching life skills, coaching them how to be their own advocates in treatment meetings, and just generally supporting them through breakups, crushes, tough teachers, and everything else that comes with being a teenager. That is the best way I can describe how BCC becomes their nonconventional family.
Each member of the care team is working on one, if not multiple goals in those categories I just mentioned.

We must all learn from one another, and from the youth directly, what is working and what isn’t. That’s where the communication piece is so critical and having a diverse team so important. One person may think to try something a different way and that becomes the breakthrough moment that really resonates with youth.

Q: Kentucky and Maryland are two universities with proud basketball heritages, and your brothers attended the University of North Carolina. March Madness must be intense, right?

A: Yes, quite intense! We grew up watching and rooting for Maryland – and still do! – but our primary loyalties are with Kentucky and UNC now.

I decided I’d take it easy on my parents and made them a blanket they keep on the couch with one side UNC and one side Kentucky. My mom just flips it over dependent on the game they are watching at the time. I also gave them two attractive yard gnomes as a present one year that they now proudly keep in our nice living room. We rub their heads for good luck on big game days!

All serious fans have their rituals, right? Needless to say, it’s not bad being a basketball fan as a member of our family – most years we’re going to have at least one serious contender!

Know of someone worth spotlighting at BCC? Email that recommendation to

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The 2015 Annual Report is Here!

Three heartfelt profiles, a financial snapshot and breakout spread highlight publication

2015 Annual Report Cover
Click the image to download the full report

It took months of planning and effort, but the Annual Report is finished!

Even though the report will soon be available in all of our campuses, an electronic PDF is available on our website. The first copies of the report mail out next week. There’s a remittance envelope stitched in every mailed copy, which can easily be torn out and returned with your donation.

At 20 pages cover to cover, the report highlights BCC’s accomplishments in the 2014-15 fiscal year (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015).

We are incredibly proud of our outcomes this past year! Did you know we served 836 youth in total last year and our employees engaged in almost 16,000 hours of continuing education or training?

The statistics are brought to life by three program participant profiles: two active and one alum.

Our first profile, Ruben H., details his incredible strides towards independence after his breathtaking journey to Baltimore from Honduras. You’ll meet Ricky F., who remembers the not-so-sweet start he had at BCC but now looks in the mirror and says he’s a better person because of the team he’s worked with here. And finally, there’s Maria H., who graduated from our residential program years ago but recently received a continuing education grant from BCC to further her career and support her family.

These are stories worth reading – and if they move you like they moved us – we hope you’ll consider donating. BCC’s high level of professionalism and care, as well as our ability to do more each year comes from the support of donors like you.

Read more from The 2015 Annual Report is Here!

TFC trains to face the challenge

Duke University Medical Center brings new evidence-based practices to Baltimore

Citing the need to push towards even better outcomes, Treatment Foster Care Director, Pat Wilson, enlisted a comprehensive, three-day training with Duke University Medical Center.

Wilson is looking to add greater competence and confidence for her entire staff, the training took place during the last week of April on the Baltimore campus.

The training – titled Together Facing the Challenge – teaches a high-rate of evidence-based positive outcomes and a cost-effective implementation schedule. The training included techniques for in-home interventions, building therapeutic relationships, teaching cooperation skills, and implementing more effective parenting techniques. BCC receives a year’s worth of consultation from the Duke to ensure proper implementation of the training.

“As an organization, BCC is responsible for specific deliverables as a child placement agency on behalf of the state of Maryland, and this training reflects changes in evidence-based treatment that can help us deliver the positive outcomes our stakeholders expect,” Wilson said.

“I learned some specific and creative parenting techniques I can share with parents on my caseload to improve outcomes, which is the ultimate goal of all our efforts,” says social worker Danyelle Crawford, who earned BCC’s Core Value Award for Empathy in January. “The training gave me the confidence to work with my peers and counsel the parents and children we serve to conquer any challenges we encounter together.”

Brooks Certificate 4.27.16

Treatment Foster Care parent Steven Brooks celebrate certification with Duke University’s Maureen Murray (LCSW) and Don Bartosik.

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Eagle Scout’s garden project leads Spiritual Life efforts in May

garden-markersPeter Walsh, a congregant at Glen Mar United Methodist Church in Ellicott City, first visited BCC on Martin Luther King Day this year as part of his church’s Day of Service project. Peter hadn’t decided yet what to do for his Eagle Scout project, but after learning more about the Baltimore program, the decision seemed clear.

He pitched Rev. Dr. Stacey Nickerson, BCC’s Director of Church and Community Engagement, on the idea of creating a community garden at BCC. What followed was a two-month planning effort that, despite Mother Nature’s outstanding weather the last six weeks, resulted in the creation of beautiful raised garden beds for the Spiritual Life Program.

The Spiritual Life Program, under the direction of Shawn Elbert, BCC’s Spiritual Life Coordinator, is now working directly with youth on the Baltimore campus to grow the garden’s first harvest. Their goal is to produce enough vegetables and fruits for Baltimore-area food pantries and for families in need.

“You do not need to be an experienced gardener to participate; you just need a positive attitude and a willing spirit to help others,” said Elbert. “I got a wonderful response from the kids and can’t wait for our first session together after this rain passes.”

Thank you so much to Peter, his family, and all the volunteers who helped create our beautiful new garden!

garden project group shot

The garden created by Eagle Scout and Glen Mar United Methodist Church congregant Peter Walsh is located near the top of the BCC-Baltimore campus near Rolling Road.

Read more from Eagle Scout’s garden project leads Spiritual Life efforts in May

Ruban H. – A Life Reborn Through Belief

ruban-hHanging out with friends, listening to music, and playing sports – markers of typical teenage life – were things Ruben H. could only dream of in Honduras.

“It’s hard to make people understand what it’s like in Honduras, but I’m OK with telling it,” Ruben says. “I want to help people understand why I left.”


Ruben escaped violent cartel drug trade, human exploitation and ransom kidnappings by walking from his village of Dolores in the Honduran state of Copán. He was just 14.

“Tell the truth and you’re in trouble,” Ruben says. “Because I saw people stealing things, other people wanted to kill me.”

Walking from Honduras, through Guatemala and into Mexico – a grueling trek of 800 miles by road or longer if by trail or field – Ruben and other migrants boarded the Ruta Golfo, a freight train running along Mexico’s Gulf Coast.

Filled with migrants sitting in cargo beds or atop boxcars with no protection from the elements, the trains are rife with criminals seeking victims for kidnapping ransoms.

“One night I huddled for warmth with a stranger so I didn’t die from the cold,” Ruben says. “If I was crying or feeling sad, I asked God to take care of me.”

On August 1, 2012, wearing nothing but the clothes he traveled over 1,000 miles in, Ruben waded across the Rio Grande River into the United States.

Click to open a full size image


Almost immediately, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took Ruben into custody, kicking off a 26-month, five-state tour of residential foster care facilities. In October 2014, Ruben entered Caminos, BCC’s program for unaccompanied children. Titled to honor the Spanish translation for “journey,” Caminos offered short-term shelter, medical care and case management support while youth awaited reunification with family or a sponsor.

BCC’s challenge initially was paperwork – without citizenship papers or a birth certificate, Ruben could not apply for a visa – and because he wasn’t 18, he could not stay in the United States. Viviana Camacho, Ruben’s BCC case manager, called the Honduran State Department several times a day for two weeks to unravel Ruben’s riddle.

Camacho had to get creative, too. “We drew a map, discovered Ruben’s hometown and ran an announcement on a local Honduran radio station,” Camacho says. “Someone heard it and told his mother. That was the break we needed.”

“That was maybe the best day of my life,” Ruben says of hearing his mother’s voice for the first time in three years. “My mother was so happy to hear me.”


Armed with his birth certificate and with help from a DC law firm, Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR), BCC helped Ruben qualify as a Child In Need of Assistance (CINA). That meant Ruben could stay in the United States instead of banishment back to Honduras when he turned 18.

Ruben embraced American culture. He played striker on his Baltimore County high school soccer team. He has made friends while taking hold of American culture. He learned to text in English, and has written close to 70 songs in Spanish.

Ruben believes his life has purpose thanks to the Board of Child Care. “In America, I’m not facing the danger I feared in Honduras,” Ruben says. “I’ve already done the hardest part. I’m at BCC because I believe God
wanted me to make a good decision.”

This story originally appeared in our 2015 Annual Report.  Click here to read all past annual reports.

Board of Child Care was operating the Caminos program in partnership with the Federal Government.  The grant has since concluded and the Caminos program is no longer offered at BCC. Read the full article here

Read more from Ruban H. – A Life Reborn Through Belief

Ricky M. – Skating Past Obstacles

ricky-m-alumni-profileThe way Ricky F. arrived at the Board of Child Care in 2007 will look nothing like how he will leave.

“We had stopped at McDonald’s for dinner and I was in the car with a cup of sweet tea held between my knees. We hit the speed bump by the front gate and the cup smashed and spilled all over my pants,” Ricky said with a smile. “I had to change in the bathroom right by the front desk.”

Nine years later, he prepares to leave BCC – with clean pants this time, he assures us – ready for living independently. “I was angry at leaving home and having to come live in a home,” Ricky recalls, “but I think a lot of maturity comes with age if you try to grasp it.”


“When I met him a year ago, school wasn’t working out the way he hoped and no one was calling him back for the various jobs he applied to,” says Grace Rudatsikira, Ricky’s clinical social worker at BCC. “(Then) everything seemed to align – there was a definite “click” moment.”

What clicked was Ricky’s ability to process what was going on around him. Instead of roller coasting through peaks and valleys, he steadied himself by controlling his emotions.

Now living in BCC’s Colesville, MD group home, Ricky is an accomplished skateboarder and snowboarder. He taught himself how to play guitar – first learning small riffs – before moving on to a few chords and eventually entire songs. His music has been a steady fixture at BCC campus gatherings, holiday parties, and Thanksgiving meals.


Ricky earned a scholarship to High Cascade Camp in Oregon, a week of learning from and interacting with professional snowboarders. “You’d be up 10,000 feet above sea level, the clouds would roll in and you couldn’t see 10 feet in front of your face,” Ricky says. “We’d go down the tail at 30 mph. Amazing.”

“I also still remember my first paycheck…it was $115.36. I bought a wireless router and an X-Box Live subscription,” Ricky says.

When asked what he is most proud of during his time at BCC, Ricky’s answer comes without hesitation. “Being there to cut the ribbon for the skateboard park on campus,” he says quickly. An avid skateboarder (and we must assume an excellent salesperson as well), Ricky’s advocacy for the construction of skateboard parks at the Baltimore and Martinsburg campuses pushed those projects to the finish line in 2014.

“Skateboarding was a huge part of my life when I was in Cottage Four and I figured a skate park would be a great way to get kids some activity, get them out of the way of cars,” Ricky says.


The young boy covered in sweet tea is now a young man who sees himself as a role model for younger residents. Helping them make the same small steps he once struggled with is what makes Ricky smile.

“Having someone to answer questions big and small means a lot,” Ricky says. “You’ll always have more chances to progress forward no matter what situation you’re in but what makes the biggest difference is what you do while you’re here.”

This story first appeared in our 2015 Annual Report (see all past annual reports here). 

Read more from Ricky M. – Skating Past Obstacles

Maria H. – Hope Drove Her to Succeed

maria-h-alumni-profileMaria H. can describe her experience at Baltimore’s Board of Child Care with just one word.



To understand Maria’s journey, you first have to acknowledge her reality. After spending her first nine years with biological parents, she spent the next five years of her life in a large orphanage in Siberia. After her two sisters were adopted in 1998, a Maryland family from Baltimore County adopted Maria in 2001.

A survivor of a throwaway culture, however, her struggles would continue for some time. Maria spoke little English and, almost immediately, found difficulty adjusting to her new life with her adopted family. “I moved in with a foster care family temporarily. My adoptive parents wouldn’t take me back in, so I was transferred to foster care permanently and that’s how I arrived at BCC,” Maria said. “I was young, emotional, and not very happy,” Maria admits. “I was upset.”


Maria turned to art as an outlet to cope with her new reality. “I’m crafty; I like to make things,” said Maria, who continued to take classes at the nearby Staub art school in Catonsville, MD while living on the Baltimore campus.

“Art became a way to deal with my problems and emotions in a positive way,” she says. “It kept my mind busy. Instead of thinking about the sad things in my life, I turned my feelings to art and that made me feel good about myself.”


Realizing she had to finish high school if she wanted to succeed, earning her diploma became Maria’s main goal in her late teens. “An education meant that I would have a future, that it would lead me to be successful,” she says. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school, but I knew I needed to finish.”

While completing high school, Maria took a job at Crown Trophy in Owings Mills. After graduation, she went to school to become a dental assistant through a program offered at Howard Community College. The license took six months to acquire; she started working in the field shortly after.

“Maria always knew what she needed to do, and she set her sights on being independent and following through on her goals,” says Nicole Smith, BCC’s Vice-President of Residential Services, who worked with Maria during her
time at BCC. “Once she had her skill set in place, we could all see she was going to flourish.”


10 years have passed since Maria graduated from high school, moved away from BCC and launched her career
as a dental assistant. Now married, she is advancing her career through BCC’s alumni grant program, going back
to school to become a licensed dental hygienist. Perhaps most importantly, Maria looks forward to starting a family of her own one day.

“We don’t have kids yet, but we definitely want them,” Maria said. “We’re waiting for the right time to begin our family.”

The ability to circle a goal, chart a path to achieve it and execute the plan is something she credits Board of Child Care for teaching her, and she plans to fully utilize the skill.

“The program’s helped me to set goals when I needed them the most,” Maria said. “I wouldn’t have achieved this life without BCC.”

This article originally appeared in BCC’s 2015 Annual Report (click to view all annual reports).

Did You Know?
Thanks to its donors, Board of Child Care funded $21,702 in continuing education for its alumni in FY 2015!

Read more from Maria H. – Hope Drove Her to Succeed