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!

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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.

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Smith accepts CRCCP board position from MD Gov. Hogan

Nicole Smith, BCC’s Executive Director of MD and DC Programs, is now serving a four-year term on the Board for the Certification of Residential Child Care Program Professionals, or CRCCP. Appointed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Smith was confirmed in February at the Maryland State House by the Executive Nominations Committee.

“Having one of our executives appointed by Governor Hogan to serve is an honor,” BCC President and CEO, Laurie Anne Spagnola, said. “It speaks to Nicole’s dedication and excellent credentials, as well as the reputation of the Board of Child Care as a residential provider.”

The CRCCP Board formed in response to a change in state law that occurred in October of 2015. All childcare professionals are now required to attain a state certification as care providers.

The problem? There was not a licensing body to oversee the professional standards and expectations.

The Board has a mix of private practitioners and representatives from other state agencies, such as the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS), the Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA).

“I’m a direct care practitioner at heart and I believe we need to professionalize the tough work we do day in and day out,” Smith says. “The care for our kids is too important not to be regulated and this allows us to train and educate those who are advocating for and working with our most vulnerable populations.”

Per the new law, BCC staff who had attained enough years of experience could apply for grandfather status for the Residential Child and Youth Care Professional certification.
Instead, BCC elected to set the bar higher.

BCC required its 63 residential childcare staff and supervisors who qualified with grandfather status to complete the coursework anyway. All staff who did not qualify for grandfather status completed the coursework and sat for the state licensing test. BCC’s first time pass rate, well north of 90 percent, compared favorably against the 30 percent pass rate statewide.

“I hope BCC and the protocol we set for the newly-implemented law becomes the standard for other organizations to consider,” said Monte Ephraim, Director of Professional Development and Training. “I am so proud of the trainers we have and of our staff for meeting the challenge and passing their exams at such a high rate. Ultimately, however, it’s all about serving the youth at BCC, and I’m really proud of the best practice standard we are setting here.”

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Child Bus Tour stops at BCC’s Martinsburg campus


BCC’s Martinsburg residential campus hosted a Child Watch tour April 20 as part of a larger, collaborative effort to heighten community awareness of the plight of abused and neglected children.

“Because April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, we try to give adults an exclusive look at what a child sees while they go through the system,” said tour organizer Kristen Gingery, project assistant at the Family Resource Network. “This tour has been building for over 10 years and we were thrilled to have the Board of Child Care as a participant.”

The eight-destination bus tour included a stop at a hospital, where abuse or neglect is usually spotted or confirmed by a medical team. From there the group visited locations such as the Department of Health and Human Services in Martinsburg, a children’s shelter, a Safe Haven shelter, the Berkeley County Judicial Center and then as their last stop: the Board of Child Care.

Jackie Columbia, BCC’s director of operations in West Virginia, hosted the 21 participants for a campus tour and short talk about BCC’s residential programing.
“This type of experience is so important as we can show community members what we do, and who we’re advocating for,” Columbia said. “Seeing our actual facility and understanding what treatment looks like helps drive home our mission and the importance of BCC’s role within the community.”

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UMC lantern vigil enlightens Baltimore campus

Lanterns like these will blessed and shipped to Africa following UMC’s general conference in Portland May 12.

Started in 1970, Earth Day has become a worldwide effort to give voice to emerging environmental issues.

Nationally, the Earth Day movement hopes to plant 7.8 billion trees and divest from fossil fuels and making large, urban cities more renewable.

At the Board of Child Care, program participants spent some time discussing the link between spirituality and social consciousness, and how that relates to events like Earth Day.United Methodist Church’s Baltimore-Washington Conference participated in, which ties in with the church’s.

Program participants in Baltimore and Martinsburg will construct and decorate lanterns lit by small LED lights. Each lantern will have a short message or prayer written on them.

The BCC Earth Day program ties into a larger effort being taken by the United Methodist Church nationwide. The UMC’s general conference – scheduled for May 12 in Oregon – includes a climate vigil. Lanterns made at BCC will be blessed alongside thousands of other lanterns made across the United States, and ultimately distributed overseas to those in need of light in their homes.

The lanterns – which will include a prayer card – are earmarked for communities in Africa, where in-home lighting is scarce and a lantern with even a small LED light can make a potentially huge impact.

“This is an important project because it teaches our kids about spirituality and social issues, and how both can be intertwined on a daily basis,” Rev. Dr. Stacey Nickerson said. “We can use events like this to make a difference in communities locally as well as abroad.”

For more information on how your church can participate, visit the news blog of the United Methodist Church’s Pacific Northwest region here.

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Tree of Life leaves lasting legacy

Tree Of Life
Volunteer Auxiliary Tree of Life

When a family member or loved one passes, planting a tree in the deceased’s memory is an oft-mentioned option.

The Board of Child Care’s Volunteer Auxiliary has taken this a step further, with a “Tree of Life” in the Baltimore Campus Chapel. Maintained and funded by BCC’s Volunteer Auxiliary, the tree offers a family or a congregation an opportunity to change a young person’s life and remember a loved one at the same time.

Family and friends of Mrs. Margaret F. Lewis have done just that. Having served many years as the key person for McKendree-Simms-Brookland UMC in the Washington Region, Lewis was recently remembered with an engraved leaf.

Lewis, 83, passed June 4, 2014. She was born and raised in Chapel Hill, NC and enjoyed a successful 33-year career working for the federal government. She was known especially for her loving spirit that drew children close to her and her belief in promoting BCC’s mission in helping children.

For more information visit the Tree of Life page or learn more about the Volunteer Auxiliary.

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New coaches, new approaches steering BCC residential programming

National partnerships are laying groundwork for continued program growth in 2016

Berger HS

BCC program director, Kelly Berger (pictured), is working with BCC’s residential team on ushering in new evidence-based therapy models for BCC’s residential programs.

The tapestry for all of this change is called Integrated Treatment Design (ITD). ITD weaves across all of BCC’s residential programs, from Maryland to West Virginia. At its core are several new toolboxes for BCC’s direct care teams who are with the residents 24/7.

BCC has engaged in two national partnerships to help onboard our staff. The first is with Chaddock, a residential provider with similar programs to BCC except based out of Quincy, Illinois. Chaddock is widely considered an industry leader in advancing residential treatment for children who have experienced severe abuse, neglect, or other trauma in their early years of development.

The second is through BCC’s participation in the Residential Transformation Cohort (RTC) project. Offered through the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, it is a gathering of like-minded human service organizations who are in the midst of a cultural and programmatic transformation.

The lead facilitator of the RTC is Tom Woll, a nationally renowned service delivery and organizational development expert known for his analysis of trends coupled with a thoughtful and entertaining presentation style. BCC was fortunate to host Mr. Woll at the end of March on both the West Virginia and Baltimore campuses. He spent time in the cottages coaching staff and supervisors, and also provided some high level discussion and debrief for the program leadership.

“One of the biggest shifts BCC is engaged in right now – something we had started before partnering with Chaddock or participating in the RTC – was a shift away from a punitive behavior-management system,” says Berger. “The work we’re doing with Chaddock and Tom Woll teaches staff to read and assess the residential culture and energy of the cottage. They learn to gauge the non-verbal behaviors and cues. Overall the practices we’re rolling out allow our staff to model, teach, and that is where we can make a real impact for someone.”

In addition to working on deployment of these new tools, Berger is simultaneously overseeing a program specifically serving teenage girls, sees massive potential for positive outcomes. The program for females specifically opened at the end of 2015 in Baltimore, with West Virginia set to open this spring.

“Organizational change is difficult at any level,” commented Laurie Anne Spagnola, President & CEO. “However, this is what we need to be doing – we need to focus on what practices are evidence-based and focus on what our successful peers have learned. It’s only through this kind of knowledge sharing that we as a sector can truly hope to make a difference in the lives of these kids.”

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Animals and birds echo through Strawbridge

Collaborative effort with CCBC offer a birds’ eye view of nature

Students at the Board of Child Care’s Strawbridge School spent some time with a few unique visitors early in March – animals from Echoes of Nature.

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Red-tail hawk shown at Strawbridge School

Based out of Bowie, MD, Echoes of Nature offers hands-on, educational programs featuring live animals to schools, day care centers, adult centers, and birthday and community events.

Echo Uzzo, the class instructor, started the lesson by showing students a small Eastern box turtle. Next was a chinchilla, a crepuscular rodent (most active around dawn and dusk) slightly larger than ground squirrels. Introduced next was a Ball Python snake, which curls when they feel threatened to make themselves a smaller target.

An opossum and a majestic red-tailed hawk capped the show. This was the only presentation students were not able to come close to or touch. Several times, this male bird – which weighs around two pounds but can stoop downward in pursuit of prey at over 100 mph – squawked and preened while Uzzo handled spoke to the class.

Uzzo spoke about how birds such as the bald eagle commonly nest from Washington to Baltimore to Annapolis, sharing waterways with fish, turtles and other animals, and how nature has moved into our backyards and cities as humans claim more land for development. Animals are under increased pressure to adapt to our presence or die.

“This was our second visit to Strawbridge, and I thought the kids were really awesome,” Uzzo said. “They’re engaged, interested and show a genuine appreciation and love for the animals.”

Uzzo says funding and building a wildlife discovery center is the ultimate goal for her company, but seeing the positive interaction between animals and humans is what motivates Uzzo.

“You protect what you like, and these kids are our future,” Uzzo said.

The Community College of Baltimore County collaborates with Strawbridge School to offer different classes to various 11th and 12th grade students. Last year, classes included childcare certification, retail, clerical and professional animal work (PAWS). Retail and PAWS carried forward to this year.

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