Go For Broke

The BCC Compass – May 2023


The 100th Battalion, 442nd Regiment is the most highly decorated unit in the US Army. They have the most Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, etc. recipients than any other unit in the US Army. Here is the kicker—they were made up of all Japanese American Soldiers or Nisei. They were segregated from the rest of the Army because of their race and because of the fear that filled the country after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan. Yet, they all felt the need and call to serve their country.

The 100th Battalion motto is “Go For Broke” a Hawaiian pidgin slogan meaning “do your best” or “Go for it!” Despite the negative national sentiment towards Japanese Americans during that time, they were determined to “Go for Broke.”

Asian American and Pacific Islander Month recognizes and celebrates and increases awareness of the rich history, contributions, and accomplishments of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans and the members of the 100th Battalion are part of this history.

Nicole Smith, Executive Director of Maryland and DC Programs, is a proud Asian American who began her career as a Youth Care Professional at BCC 23 years ago!

Our CEO, Laurie Anne “LA” Spagnola wrote in her latest all-staff message:

“Recently, Nicole reported to the Equity Diversity and Inclusion committee about her efforts to bring awareness and equity to Maryland’s Social Work licensing exam.

The results of the exam support disparate passing rates for black and brown social workers. Nicole worked with a group of people to challenge the inequity of the exam and advocated for a bill that is now law. The new law will develop a process that examines the data and the exam, pauses some parts of the Maryland Social Work exam process, and informs a more just process for all social workers.”


“Go For Broke!” is definitely not limited to our AAPI community:

Our Caminos Team, to include Kelly Berger, Michael Lynch, Emily Claure, Jordan Jones, and SharnettKelly presented a training session at the United Methodist Association Conference and brought forth the positive impact that the program has had on many youth and families across the nation.

Our Caminos program serves and cares for recently migrated youth from all over the world and they have been engaging with other children’s service organizations to help service this population. The Caminos Teams shared their expertise, stories, passion, and learning experience with a group of colleagues setting the bar of care for these vulnerable kids. GO FOR BROKE, Caminos Team!

How can you embody the spirit of the 100th Battalion and what are your “Go For Broke” moments? What could be keeping you from moving forward in the spirit of “doing your best”? Are there members of the AAPI community in your life and how have they made an impact on you? What positive ways could you engage with the AAPI community and hear their stories?

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Lessons from the Watering Hole: Celebrate Diversity

The BCC Compass – April 2023


A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to go on safari in South Africa. I was in awe of the beauty of the sub-Saharan terrain and the wonders of all the pack animals wandering the plains.  I was also able to see most of the big five game animals: lions, hippos, elephants, etc. But what I found the most fascinating was the watering hole. There I was able to see all kinds of animals—both predator and prey—gather to quench their thirst.  Zebras, hippos, antelopes, warthog, and other species of animals were gathered to have a drink.

What can we learn from this? We see different species of animals gathered for a drink at the same spot and yet as humans it can be difficult to say “hello” or get to know someone who might not look like us.

In the United States, desegregation was less than a century ago—yet we are the same species!

Since 2004, April has been a month designated to celebrate and honor the diversity in the world around us.

It is a time where we can intentionally appreciate our similarities and differences. It is a time to understand and recognize our differences and honor the essence of humanity. This month we aim to foster a deeper understanding of others, regardless of who they are or how they live. We encourage a deeper understanding of others through conversation and sharing.

Diversity is crucial.

Diversity helps us become better people because it increases our understanding of human nature, and it keeps us open to the fact that the world does not revolve around just one set of beliefs.

At BCC, we embrace diversity, and it is important for us to include different perspectives and ideas when making decisions and during everyday operations. Leadership understands that doing this will not only help us overall but can help nurture employees to develop strong interpersonal skills. Engaging with facets of other cultures, perspectives, and lifestyles can help us understand how the world works.

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee helps ensure that we look through a diverse lens so that we are able to open up our horizons. The EDI committee intentionally highlights our diverse workforce by helping our campuses celebrate different cultures, and they also bring a new lens when it comes to our policies and procedures to ensure that they encompass the diverse needs of our staff.

Diversity makes us stronger.

It is natural for humans to fear what we don’t know. I believe that if we continue to learn more about each other and appreciate each other, we can solve a lot of problems. Let us continue to celebrate our diversity and strive to build a world that builds longer tables to share a drink, not higher walls to keep the unfamiliar out.

Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore
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Women’s HERstory

The BCC Compass – March 2023


A few years ago, I had the opportunity to be with a group of youth for a retreat. One of the leaders thought it would be a good idea to do some push-ups to wake the kids up a little from their 9 AM wake-up call. Being in the Army, I had the personal experience to concur that push-ups can be better than coffee…sometimes.

As the group moved to the front-leaning rest position, the youth leader called out, “Hey, it’s okay if you need to drop to your knees and do ‘girl’ push-ups. There is no shame in that…” In about half a second, I jumped to my feet and corrected the leader. “They are called ‘modified’ push-ups, as I’m sure push-ups are not gender specific.” He smirked and said, “well, they are called ‘girl’ push-ups here.”

As I looked at the group of boys and girls, I moved up to where the leader was, dropped to the floor, and knocked out five one-handed push-ups. As I completed the last one, I looked him in the eyes and told him, “Those are girl push-ups.” I was feeling all kinds of emotions: disappointment, anger, sadness—and a little shoulder pain from the push-ups. But as a society, we need to continue to speak power into our young people and help them realize that gender is not a limitation to what we can or cannot do.

Women’s History Month serves to lift up all the amazing things that women have contributed to society and highlights the struggles women continue to encounter.

We celebrate the countless women who have fought tirelessly and courageously for equality, justice, and opportunity. It is hard to believe that it was only in 1974 that women won the legal right to open a checking account or take out a line of credit without her husband’s signature. Slowly, the great trailblazers continue to dismantle the walls of inequality and the mantle is passed to us today.

The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said,

Whatever you choose to do, leave tracks. That means don’t do it just for yourself. You will want to leave the world a little better for your having lived.”

I am grateful for the women who have paved the way for the women of today.

Our CEO, Laurie Anne (LA) Spagnola is our first female CEO in the agency’s nearly 150-year history. From our Board of Directors (54% female) to our executive and senior leaders (76% women in leadership) to our administrative team, clinicians, support staff, teachers, and direct care staff, every corner and every campus have the impact of women enriching communities, one family at a time.

Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore
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Celebrating Black History Month

The BCC Compass – February 2023

As we are in the cusp of Black History Month, I am once again in awe of the amazing attributes that the Black community has given to our society and my heart aches for the walls and injustices that were put in the way. It reminds me that we must continue to make choices that aid in breaking down those walls and to continue to listen and tell the stories of the past and support members of the community.

Some of you might have watched movies depicting stories you might not have heard of before. A few years ago, I watched “Hidden Figures” and was amazed about the impact that African-American women had on the NASA space program. And at the same time, I was disheartened that I did not learn about these stories in school nor was it common knowledge.

Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen, first African American Marine Corps aviator, Vietnam War Vet, and first African American Marine General Officer once shared his story with me about returning back to the Naval Air Base in Pensacola Florida from fighting in Vietnam, only to be told he had to sit in the back of the bus.

During a trip to South Africa, I had met Themba, who was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela because of his fight against the apartheid government. Yet, so many years later he spoke of forgiveness and reconciliation as a tool to heal what was done wrong to him.

So many of these stories resonate with the thread of perseverance and the desire to achieve, despite the circumstances that surrounded them.

We continue to hear stories of those who rise above their circumstances, and we should remember and embrace these lived experiences. They are to be celebrated.

Our challenge is not to settle.

Our challenge is to continue to be disturbed by the current strifes and circumstances facing the Black community or any community that has been marginalized. Continue to support the community with our presence, gifts, and voice. Be prepared to have an open heart and mind to listen and accept.

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Belief Beyond Yourself: Spirituality at BCC

The BCC Compass – February 2023


What gets you out of bed in the morning? What keeps you going through daunting, difficult times? From where do you draw your inspiration in life? 

As people, we often compartmentalize our needs. We have physical needs, emotional needs, mental health needs — and, regardless of your beliefs, every person also has a spiritual need. That spiritual need isn’t necessarily religious; it’s your sense of purpose in life, your belief beyond yourself.

What colors your outlook on life and gives you a sense of purpose? 

People often feel uncomfortable with the word “spiritual.” It’s been removed from today’s vernacular and shied away from in everyday conversations. But I believe that being in touch with your spirituality is absolutely necessary to live a happy, healthy, and meaningful life. 

As an organization, the Board of Child Care is rooted in Methodist traditions. One tradition is seeing that everyone is made in the “imago dei,” or the image of God, and in them lives the Holy Spirit. Methodists believe that every person is deserving of the grace God has given. At BCC, this includes the children we care for and the staff that makes up this incredible organization. 

BCC was founded almost 150 years ago when this spirit led a group of Methodist leaders to care for children. Today, we’re working to revive that spirituality in the organization, and I am proud to be serving as Director of Spiritual Life for our staff. I’ve served with BCC for many years as a bishop’s representative to the Board of Directors. It’s through this experience that I’ve seen first-hand how special BCC is; how truly impactful this organization is in the lives and communities it supports. If any organization is living the Gospel message, BCC is it. 

So how are we bringing this sense of spirituality back to life at BCC? 

  • Communication & Education – Every Monday, I send an internal “Monday Minutes” message to employees. Inside will be a daily devotional, as well as educational pieces to help you grow in your faith and grow who you are.
  • Spiritual Fitness Events – Let’s come together to have moments of spiritual well-being. In addition to monthly prayer groups, we will have designated chapel times. Look for these events starting up in 2023.
  • Pastoral Counseling – In my role as Director of Spiritual Life, you can trust that I am your confidant, your outlet to discuss whatever might be on your heart. Though I am a United Methodist pastor and come from a Christian tradition, my arms are open for people of all backgrounds — a reflection of the strong Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion values at BCC. I am here to provide for your needs. My time serving as an Army chaplain has made me more aware of many other faith and cultural traditions and how I can be a part of providing spiritual support for all.

Not to oversimplify it, but in my mind, spirituality is your connection with your creator and your community. I am lucky enough to be living out my calling in my role at BCC. I want to work with everyone at BCC to ensure they’ve found that connection, too — the calling that brings them ease and a sense of purpose.

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Finding the Middle Ground

The BCC Compass – November 2022


I’m the middle child in my family.

Growing up, this often meant that I was the one constantly promoting peace between my siblings. Given how close I was in age to both my older and younger sisters, I was able to connect with them in different ways. Being sandwiched in the middle forced me to consider both sides, to find the balance.

I was the peacemaker.

It’s funny how the roles we played in our families growing up often influence who we are as adults. Today, I’m a social worker — it’s my job to find the middle ground.

One of the first things I learned when I began my education in social work is that you can’t actually find a middle ground without identifying the farthest edges first. Considering the opposing sides — the two extremes — is necessary when it comes to arriving where you need to be in a compromise.

As we come out of this recent election and prepare for a time of Thanksgiving, I think that finding this middle ground is more important and relevant than ever before.

There will always be people who have different thoughts than you, different beliefs. We need to find space in our brains for all ideas, because that is how you find the middle. It’s how you discover what you do believe in and what you don’t believe in. The whole idea that someone is right and someone is wrong goes against equity, diversity and inclusion. Seek to understand. Keep an open mind. Be open to learning.

The Thanksgiving holiday is a great opportunity to exercise this mental flexibility. Remember the skits we did in preschool and Kindergarten about the first Thanksgiving? Remember how the “Pilgrims” and native people were portrayed? We now know that these facts weren’t exactly accurate. We need to unlearn what we thought to be true and be open to understanding that that wasn’t the correct way to think about native people or the history of the United States.

This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to do the hard work. To have those tough conversations. The older we all get, the more I’ve found things to be unifying, especially if you’re on the lookout for them.

Wishing everyone a safe, peaceful Thanksgiving holiday!

Laurie Anne “LA” Spagnola
President & CEO

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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.

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.

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.

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!

LA Spagnola
President & CEO

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