Won’t you be my neighbor?

The BCC Compass – Nov 2023


One of my favorite theologians is Rev. Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” An ordained Presbyterian Minister, the impact of his teachings has crossed many generations.

I recently shared one of his quotes with a group of our senior leaders during our centering moment:

“It’s no secret that I like to get to know people–and not just the outside stuff of their lives. I like to try to understand the meaning of who people are and what they’re saying to me.”

As I offered a reflection, I mentioned that it takes time and intention to get to know your neighbor. If we really want to know who our neighbor is, we must be intentional with the methods to get to know them. Approaching with an open mind, rather than a bias or prejudgment, is an ideal way to meet with your neighbor.

During this same meeting, Ruth Wong De Balderas and Sharnett Kelly, leaders in our Baltimore Caminos Program, shared their experience of a cultural immersion trip with the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church to the Mexico and California border. The group traveled to the area where those seeking asylum were detained, then released. The purpose of this trip was to invite people to experience what the migrants to this country have experienced. The group was able to interact with other organizations providing services to the migrant community.

One of our core values at BCC is empathy. Empathy is allowing yourself to experience what others may be going through, and through empathy we can develop compassion. Sharnett and Ruth both expressed the importance of understanding and experiencing what the kids they care for have gone through. It allows them to be better caretakers and gives them a deeper understanding of how to provide for these children.

Our BCC neighborhood encourages others to get to know their neighbors. When we know who our neighbors are, it makes it less difficult for us to care for and understand them. Many conflicts and animosity can be avoided if we get the chance to know our neighbor.
Immigration is a hot button topic and people have passionate opinions on both sides of the issue. One of the stories that I like to share is about one of my military colleagues who was present during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. As the planes filled up, commanders noticed that children were being left with Soldiers or being tossed over the walls in desperation. Leadership said “Chaplain, we need an orphanage.” The chaplains present there established an orphanage where they ensured the safety of the children. She cataloged more than 300 kids, and they all were flown back to the states. She did not know what happened to those children after they left Afghanistan.

A year later, I met with her and she told me that story. I looked at her and told her that some of those kids ended up at the Board of Child Care and they were safe and being loved here in the United States. It brought a sense of relief and closure to her.

Stop and get to know your neighbor’s story. You never know who might be in the neighborhood.


Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore
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Board of Child Care All Staff 8-23-2023 Core Value Award Winners

It is my pleasure once again to announce the winners of our Core Value Awards.

For those staff who may be new to BCC, each winner receives a framed certificate and a $50 amazon.com gift card. All nominators will be entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift card.

Take a moment between now and our next All Staff meeting to share something great you observed about one of your teammates. You can even do it right from your phone!

Diana T —Safety
Health & Wellness Coordinator, PA

Here is what her nomination said:

“Diana Thomas has been extremely welcoming to new summer staff; friendly and helpful in many ways.  She took time out of her day to help new hires (who were unable to attend original training) get CPR training completed to help accomplish our goal to be in ratio with the youth as soon as possible.

She always stopped in to ask if we needed anything and provided hot spots when the internet would not cooperate."

Thank you, Diana, and congratulations!

Hannah M—Relationships
Medical Coordinator, Caminos Baltimore

Here is what her nomination said:

"Hannah is a new member of the Caminos Maryland team - she joined the program in April, taking on the role of the Medical Coordinator. Since joining the Caminos team, Hannah has stepped right into her role on the Administrative team - she has worked to establish positive relationships with our external stakeholders, collaborated with LTFC parents to secure care for the youth in their homes, and has brought forward solutions to workflow challenges experienced by the program.

And even though her job requires her to spend a lot of time completing paperwork and communicating with external stakeholders, Hannah makes sure that she spends time with the kids.... sometimes even coloring on the walls while waiting for x-rays to be done (no worries, it was coloring paper)!"

Congratulations, Hannah, and thank you!

Saychelle R.—Empathy
Youth Care Professional, Baltimore

Here is what her nomination said:

"Ms. Rivers always hears the youth out. Whether In crisis or agitated. When a youth was embarrassed to come forth about an accident she had made on herself she ensured them that accident happens and suggested using the bathroom before going to bed. She hurdled help with the cleanup and made sure the child did not feel sad or embarrassed."

Congratulations, Saychelle, and thank you!

Jessica W.—Impact
Assistant Program Director, Baltimore

Here is what her nomination said:

"Jessica Weeg is the Assistant Program Director of Clinical Services for our Maryland Residential programs. She uncovered a problem with residential youth bed assignments in Cx360 that was far-reaching and negatively impacting our billing and reporting to referral sources. Jess worked collaboratively with the EHR team and members of the treatment teams to identify both changes needed to Cx360 configurations and correct youth bed assignment history.

Through her diligent and detailed efforts, Jess was able to ensure the needed corrections were made so that our billing and reporting to external partners is accurate."

Thank you Jess for making an impact behind the scenes to keep our systems running smoothly and correctly!

Teamwork Always:

Here at BCC, teamwork is a major contribution to the success of our organization. For our 'Teamwork Always' moment today, I would like to recognize the Program Team in Baltimore. Thank you to everyone who supported Kira’s first visit in two years with her mother. The staff in House 4 listened to Kira talk about her upcoming visit for several weeks and helped her to process her emotions. Campus Supervisor who found staff, (thank you to Ms. Crystal), to drive all the way to Cumberland to rescue us when the van broke down. Kira was able to spend 4 hours with her mother and they loved every minute.  She reconnected with her great-grandmother via Facetime while visiting with her mother. Kira will be seeing her mother weekly with their plan being reunification now pending DSS approval.

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.

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.

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.

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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What Exactly Is A Chaplain?

The BCC Compass – Oct 2023


Chaplains are present in many intuitions such as Tysons Food, the US Military, Congress, hospitals, colleges, and the Board of Child Care. But what exactly is a chaplain? Some might think that they are not religious and there is no need for a chaplain. After all, there is a separation of church and state, right? Let us explore a few things:

Chaplain vs Pastor/Clergy

Chaplains are representatives of their faith traditions: Christians (of different denominations), Islam, Jewish, Humanists, Buddhists etc. who have received specialized training to minister in a pluralistic environment. Many chaplains are clergy people (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams) but – at their ministry setting – they are chaplains because they are available to all people and provide care to all regardless of faith or no faith tradition. Chaplains understand what it means to serve in a pluralistic setting.

Why does BCC and other institutions (including secular ones) have a chaplain?

Chaplains care for people, offer pastoral care, and provide religious services such as ordinances and sacraments. However, chaplains also have another unique role. They advise on topics such as religious freedom/accommodation, ethics, and morality.

With BCC’s history with Methodism, having the spiritual caretaker on staff is part of our heritage. Spiritual care is a broad perspective, not just of religion, but being spiritually ready to face whatever the next hurdle may be.  At BCC, we also see this role as a tool for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion. The chaplain helps, along with the EDI committee, to ensure that practices, policies, celebrations within the organization possess an EDI perspective and celebrate people as they have been created. Along with that, the promotion of physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness is part of the culture we would like to embrace at BCC.

Chaplaincy is evolving, as the world is evolving, but the thing that remains consistent is that spiritual care and readiness, a sense of purpose, is important in maintaining a healthy individual. At BCC, the chaplain is used in many ways but the focus is still to care for our talent and caregivers and to ensure that there are avenues for EDI initiatives, to help change our communities through the family called the Board of Child Care.

Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore
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Jim Young Memorial Golf Tournament 2023 — Thank You!



In a remarkable display of unwavering community support, Board of Child Care’s annual Jim Young Memorial Golf Tournament once again exceeded all expectations!

This cherished event—held in memory of the late Jim Young—has a profound impact on the lives of youth served in our Pennsylvania programs. This year’s tournament raised an astounding $63,150 in support!

To every golfer, sponsor, volunteer, and supporter who contributed to the success of this event, we extend our heartfelt gratitude. Thank you for helping us make a lasting impact and honoring the memory of Jim Young through our collective dedication to—and FORE—the kids!

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Lifelong Learning Opportunities for Growth

The BCC Compass – September 2023


Nelson Mandela once said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Education—be it a college degree, vocational school, or learning a trade—can drastically change a person’s position and situation. Education can open doors and windows to opportunities that otherwise might not be available to an individual.

Unfortunately, a higher education can be costly, and many come from a place where it might not be feasible to attend pay for it. Those driven try to find ways to pay for it. Some are able to secure scholarships to fill in financial gaps. Others join the military and take advantage of the education benefits they get from their service. A majority end up in debt through loans.

At BCC, we see the need to make education more accessible for others. Not everyone has the ability to secure scholarships, join the military, or have had parents set aside money for a college fund.

As such, it has been part of our ethos to develop our talent and promote growth, both professionally and personally. We are able to do that through our college tuition assistance program where we provide members of our staff with $5,000 a year to help pay for a degree or certification. Though not everyone uses the benefit, those who do are able to attain something that they otherwise might not be able.

Let’s face it: there are careers that require degrees and training. On-the-job and life experiences are invaluable, but industry standards also dictate the requirements needed for various career fields. BCC hopes to bridge the gap between our staff’s talents and their opportunities for growth. That is equity.

As we move toward the future, we plan on highlighting the benefits we provide to our talents in order for them to be successful. The tuition reimbursement program is one of the best practices currently in place to retain, train, and invest in our people. We hope to highlight our talents who have used it and celebrate their achievements. Graduation party anyone?


Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore

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Imua: Move Forward Towards New Beginnings

The BCC Compass – August 2023


August doesn’t signify the start of a new calendar year, but it has always felt like a time of new beginnings for me.

For some, August means returning to reality after a summer vacation. For students and teachers, it means kicking off a new school year. For all, the promise of crisp, cooler temperatures is in the air as we prepare to wel come autumn.

We are moving towards a time of change, which can often be both exciting and nerve-wracking.

This past June at our Strawbridge School commencement ceremony, I talked about the idea of “Imua” in Hawaiian culture, my personal heritage. Imua means “to move forward” or “to move ahead” towards a goal. I am sharing this message with our wider community as we all collectively dive into a new season of life, whatever that may look like for each of us. This may be a time of challenges, celebrations, adventures, or peace — no matter what, I encourage you to take this idea of Imua with you. Move forward through the change, working towards the goals you have in place for yourself.

So what does Imua mean?  The term was made famous by King Kamehemaha I, the ali’i (king) who unified the Hawaiian islands. Before battle, Kamehameha would rally and call out to his warriors. He would say, Imua e nā poki‘i a inu i ka wai ‘awa‘awa, ‘a‘ohe hope e ho‘i mai ai.” This translates to: “Forward my young brothers and drink of the bitter waters, there is no turning back.”

When I think of Imua and how to take steps forward in times of change, I am often reminded of this quote from U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven.

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter… And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

The little things in life can make the biggest difference and the most impact. Keep doing those little things that bring joy and purpose, even if it’s just making your bed. It will give you the confidence you need to go forward through life as change and new beginnings come your way.

I wish you Imua and a wonderful start to this new season.

Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore

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Juneteenth 2022 vs. 2023: A Learning Experience

The BCC Compass – July 2023


The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. A practice we have here at BCC is to learn from what we have done in the past and adapt it to our current practices, realizing that there is not just one way to complete a task.

In June we had celebrated Juneteenth across the majority of our organization and it was deemed a “great success.” We learned and integrated best practices from the event last year.

Here is an excerpt from the Compass blog written by our CEO, LA Spangnola wrote last year:

“At BCC, we set a goal to 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 in a way that was truly meaningful. We also added more educational opportunities about the holiday so staff throughout BCC could gain a deeper understanding of the day’s meaning.”

Here are the ways that we implemented the lessons learned from last year:

1. Each campus (PA, WV, and MD) had a planning team that consulted other staff and each other in planning

2. Menu was planned accordingly to cultural celebration and appropriate decoration were used

3. Appropriated funding and support was allocated by the EDI committee

4. Educational materials, such as bulletin boards and handouts about Junteenth were given away at the celebrations

Even with the “great success” we still have an opportunity to learn and grow as we plan for next year. The big realization is the need to be intentionally inclusive of all our campuses and also include them in the planning and execution of our celebration. With this in mind, we endeavor to:

  • Assign an EDI outreach person to each campus to ensure that all BCC locations are included in the celebration conversation.
  • Create and print out more educational materials to be distributed to the campuses.

With every EDI led initiative and celebration, there is room to learn, engage, and improve. That is the great thing about this work: we are always learning and growing together!

Moving forward, especially as we prepare for our agency-wide Hispanic Heritage Celebration, we will keep in mind the lessons learned from our past events to help us share with the world the richness of the people at the Board of Child Care.

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Fostering Inclusion and Empowerment: Embracing Queer Youth by Supporting Queer Employees

The BCC Compass – June 2023


We hold a significant responsibility to ensure the well-being of all our youth, and this includes those who identify as members of the –queer community. Queer describes sexual and gender identities other than straight and cisgender. Queer is sometimes used to express that sexuality and gender can be complicated, change over time, and might not fit neatly into either/or identities, like male or female, gay or straight. Creating a supportive and inclusive environment for queer youth extends beyond direct care – it includes fostering a workplace culture that supports and empowers queer employees and creating positive relationships and role models for marginalized youth.

To effectively serve marginalized communities, BCC strives to understand the intricacies and complexities of marginalization. To do this important work, we rely heavily on the efforts of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) Committee. Our EDI Committee is an organization-wide committee of employees that work together to advocate for marginalized groups in our workforce. Through the work of the EDI Committee, we encourage employees to share their experiences, concerns, and ideas related to marginalized inclusion.

Creating a safe environment of open dialogue and communication is essential in supporting queer employees.

By actively listening to and addressing this feedback, BCC can ensure that the voices of queer employees are heard, and necessary improvements are made. Through this feedback, we have launched many initiatives that benefit the queer community, such as the expansion of employee benefits to include unmarried life partners. These modifications will help our employees with the stressors outside of work, and in turn create a more positive milieu for our employees.

Encouraging the visibility of queer employees is also integral to the support of queer youth. For any marginalized community, visibility challenges narrow societal expectations and demonstrates the richness and diversity within the group, dismantling harmful assumptions and misconceptions while promoting a more accurate understanding of their experiences, struggles, and contributions. This is especially critical to the youth we serve, many of whom come from environments barren of acceptance and understanding. In addition to the emotional benefits for the employee, visibility of our queer employees helps to show our queer youth that both support and success are attainable; it allows youth to see a bit of themselves in employees and serves to strengthen their positive relationships and, ultimately, their own personal identity.

To cultivate a workplace of understanding and visibility, BCC strives to foster an inclusive culture that embraces diversity, aims for cultural competency, and respects the identities of all employees, including but not limited to:

  • Comprehensive non-discrimination policies that explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Inclusivity and diversity training for new employees.
  • Conversation-style educational seminars for current employees and teams.
  • Equal opportunity for career advancement and professional development.
  • Gender-affirming healthcare coverage.
  • Inclusive parental leave policies for same-sex couples.

As we grow in the regions we serve and as our employees become more and more diverse, BCC is always mindful of setting LGBTQ+-inclusive policies and benefits to support the well-being of queer employees. By addressing these specific needs, we honor our commitment to supporting queer employees, creating an inclusive workplace, and acknowledge that these offerings are integral for employee safety.

Cole Welsh (they/them)
EDI Committee Vice-Chair
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BCC’s Nicole Smith Recognized for Leadership and Advocacy in Support of New Law for Social Work Licensing Exam

— Groundbreaking legislation will create a more equitable system for social workers in Maryland —

The Board of Child Care (BCC) today announced that its Executive Director of Maryland & DC Programs, Nicole Smith, has been recognized for her instrumental role in the creation and passage of new legislation aimed at addressing racial disparities in social work exam passing rates.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore recently signed into law a bill that will address the social worker shortage and the racial disparities in passing rates for the national exams administered by the Association of Social Work Boards. Smith and her colleagues worked closely with a group of people to challenge the inequity of the exam and advocated for the bill, HB 145, which is now law.


With the new law in place, a formal workgroup, funded by the Maryland Department of Health, will work to find an alternative to the current test due to the disparity. The results of the exam have shown that there are disparate passing rates for black and brown social workers. According to data, between 2011 and 2021 in Maryland, the first-time pass rates for white and Black test takers were 93% and 56%, respectively.

A leading voice in the call for change, Smith joined others in Annapolis who were instrumental in the bill to witness Governor Moore enact the law that will not only benefit Maryland’s social workers, but those who receive their care and services aimed at improving their improving their lives.

“This new law is a significant step towards addressing the racial disparities in social work exam passing rates, and it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Nicole Smith and her colleagues,” said Laurie Anne Spagnola, CEO of the Board of Child Care.

“Nicole’s commitment to equity and justice is inspiring, and we are incredibly proud to have her as a member of our team.”

About the Board of Child Care

The Board of Child Care is a private, 501(c)3 not-for-profit that has been serving youth and their families for over 145 years. The organization’s history is rooted in faith, with its early beginnings being several orphanages operated by the United Methodist Church throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Following several mergers, first in 1960 and another in 2019, it is known today as the Board of Child Care. With a staff of 700+, an annual budget around $50 million, and its network of partners, BCC supports communities via a national footprint of programs that extend across the Eastern half of the United States. Its broad spectrum of services to youth and their families includes residential, mental/behavioral health, trauma response, family support, and education. To learn more or see how you can get involved, visit www.boardofchildcare.org

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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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