TFC preps for respite care on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Year-long effort to offer service closer to reality with $25,000 grant

FCPKC logo PNGIt took a year of vision and the stress of writing a winning proposal, but the good news is here!

The Board of Child Care has received word the grant to expand its Treatment Foster Care (TFC) program to include respite care on Maryland’s Eastern Shore has been approved. The award comes from the Family and Community Partnership of Kent County Grant (FCPKC).

Board of Child Care’s TFC license with the state of Maryland includes a respite care license, making BCC eligible to apply for the grant. BCC’s response to the request for a proposal highlighted BCC’s assets already in place on the Eastern Shore, giving it the edge needed to win the grant.

Respite care affords a current TFC parent a break from the children they are stewarding. As any parent knows, getting a break from your kids, even for a few hours, can be a lifesaver. When it comes to TFC children who often have medical or behavioral issues, a break from the caregiving routine can mean the difference between a successful, stable foster home and foster parent burnout and placement disruption.

BCC will now provide respite care on the Eastern Shore without requiring kids to travel across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to afford such a break. Allowing a foster care child to remain on the eastern shore even during this short break from their regular foster parents means they can stay connected with their school, friends, local family members, and normal activities.

“This partnership is about showing the Eastern Shore that the Board of Child Care is a high quality provider that will be an asset to the communities we serve,” said Karen McGee, Director of Eastern Shore Operations. “There’s a common culture of treating the Western Shore and Eastern Shore of Maryland as almost two different states. This expansion is an opportunity to break down that barrier and keep families together.”

TFC hosted a luncheon May 29 on BCC’s Eastern Shore campus (Denton, MD) to both celebrate the collaboration and convene a work group to discuss how recruited families would provide respite care within targeted counties on the Eastern Shore.

“We have an urgency to start recruiting families and individuals from Eastern Shore communities who desire to serve the children and families who need them most,” said Pat Wilson, BCC’s Director of Treatment Foster Care. “We know this all seems like short notice, but our urgency comes from our mission to prevent out-of-home placements and the breakup of families.”

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Board of Child Care internships a win-win proposition

Pat Wilson headshot
PATRICIA WILSON, LCSW-C

The end of April brings with it the conclusion of several social work internships offered by BCC each year.

“Getting the opportunity to work with some really strong professionals and working with kids confirmed my choice to go into treatment foster care as a life career,” says Ellen Spunt, who recently completed an internship on BCC’s Treatment Foster Care team.

Spunt spent the last two semesters with BCC after securing advanced standing in her master’s degree program at University of Maryland’s School of Social Work.

After the interns complete their undergraduate or post-graduate degree, having hands-on experience on their resume can be a huge asset in the job market.

“I was given tasks that required me to take initiative and learn something new, and BCC gave me all the tools I needed to succeed,” adds Spunt. “While the internship was unpaid, I really appreciate not only the experience and references I now have for my resume, but also all the advice and support I received as I get ready to sit for my licensing exam.”

Patricia Wilson, LCSW-C, Director of Treatment Foster Care, has served as supervisor for many interns over the years, including Spunt most recently.

“Successful interns are passionate about serving others, hungry to succeed, and extremely receptive to learning accepted professional and industry standards,” Wilson says. “In the case of Ellen, she was all of the above. As part of her degree, she needed to complete 10 core competencies in hands on fieldwork at some point before she graduates. I’m so proud she accomplished nine just with her time at BCC alone.”

Because of the proficiency Spunt showed and her ability to contribute to the team, she was offered a fulltime position after she graduates. Because of prior summer travel plans, Spunt was unable to accept immediately, but she described her interest in a full-time position at BCC as ‘strong.’

While most social work interns at BCC are in a graduate program, BCC had the pleasure of working with Micaela Itter in the Baltimore residential program this past semester. Itter is working towards an undergraduate degree in social work through University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC).

Dr. Meg DePasquale, LCSW-C, one of the residential program directors and Itter’s supervisor at BCC, commented that dependability during an internship gives a future candidate for full-time employment an undeniable edge.

“Micaela quickly developed rapport with the staff and program participants, therefore becoming an integral part of the care team and care plan.” DePasquale said. “She presented herself very professionally, in a manner one might expect to see more from a grad student.”

Itter is still working on her undergraduate degree and therefore not eligible for a full time social work position (all BCC social workers are masters’ level). However, she was encouraged to apply for an hourly on-call position at BCC to help her keep gaining experience while she completes her degree.

Internships and fulltime positions are offered on BCC’s job board, found on the BCC website under the careers tab. Interested candidates are encouraged to keep periodic tabs on the page and apply when appropriate, as BCC offers at least a half-dozen internships a year.

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BCC Spotlight: SARAH DISCHNER, Clinical Social Worker

DischnerSarah Dischner, 29, is a Clinical Social Worker based out of BCC’s Charlotte Hall office in southern Maryland. Exclusively seeing youth in BCC’s Treatment Foster Care (TFC) program, Dischner came to BCC in 2015 after seeing schizophrenia patients in Pittsburgh the prior four years. A native of Williamsport, PA, Dischner earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011.

Q: What attracted you to and motivated you to apply to BCC:
A: I was planning to move to the Maryland area in general and the opportunity with Board of Child Care sounded interesting because working with children was always appealing to me.

Q: What is your title and what does a garden-variety day look like for you?
A: As a clinical social worker for TFC I serve youth and families impacted by complex trauma. A typical morning for me includes compiling notes, prepping for appointments, and completing care plans and other paperwork.

I start seeing youth when school is out, so I spend afternoons on the road and in the community. I conduct one on one visits with the kids, as well as sessions with them and their families. Sometimes this means their biological parents, and sometimes it is with BCC’s TFC parents. I work closely with the TFC team to make sure that both the child and the TFC parents are receiving the support they need.

Q: This is not a typical 9-to-5 job – what makes this work rewarding to you?
A: Being able to help someone make the small changes in their life that translate to big changes for them and their community is what gets me out of bed in the morning. The youth and families I work with volunteer to participate in therapy with me – and sometimes not everyone wants to be there.

Many little engagements are necessary to earn the respect and trust of the child and their family (biological or foster care) to make progress possible.

Q: What has been better than advertised about coming aboard with BCC?
A: Being able to flex my schedule has been a big benefit to working at BCC. If I see someone at eight or nine in the evening, I can come in at 10am the next day so I do not burn out. I have also been impressed with the organization’s effort to make sure practitioners get the help and attention we need.

I feel like supervisors actually care about the staff and having that support has solidified for me the feeling that I made a good decision to join BCC.

Q: You recently found a horse tooth from the Ice Age. What is this all about?
A: Shark teeth, crab fossils, and mollusks all wash up on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Calvert Cliff State Park and Flag Pond State Park are two of my favorite beaches to visit. Winter is definitely better than summer for this activity.

A few months ago, I found a tooth much bigger than normal for a mammal. After I posted a picture online, Calvert Marine Museum contacted me and indicated it was probably from a horse and that they would like to see it and study it further. Mammal teeth are rare because typically, during the Ice Age, mammals would die, float out to sea, decompose, and sink – so finding the tooth on a beach is unusual and very lucky!

 

Editor’s Note:

The version of this article published in Keywords originally listed Sarah’s title incorrectly as an Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment (IDDT) specialist. She is a Clinical Social Worker at BCC.  Our apologies to Sarah!

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Treatment Foster Care Parent Profile — The Stockton’s

Stocktons - Crop - CopyAaron and Sandy Stockton say becoming Treatment Foster Care (TFC) parents was a natural fit for them. You might say it has become a “family affair” for the couple, who raised four children of their own and convinced a few of them to become foster parents, too, making it a multi-generational tradition for the Stockons.

‘Her nature’

“I’m one of seven kids, so I’m used to a big family and having a lot of people around my house — siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews,” Sandy says, explaining her interest in foster parenting.

What Sandy didn’t know until recently was that her own mother had been in foster care for a few years as a young child. Even though she never talked about it while raising Sandy and her siblings, Sandy says her mother’s experience and willingness to help others shaped her as a parent and a person.

“When I look back, there was always someone in the house, somebody else’s kids, and now I know why,” she says. “It was just in her nature to help people.”

It’s Sandy’s nature, as well. As a registered nurse, Sandy is trained to provide care and comfort to people in need. Doing so at home seemed like a natural extension of her career.

“Treatment Foster Care challenges me to use my nursing experience and I like that,” she says.

Being a mentor

Stocktons 01 - CopyLike Sandy, Aaron also provides more than just parenting to the kids under his roof. A handyman and a self-starter himself, Aaron teaches each of the TFC boys useful skills and a work ethic that they can use to build their self-esteem and support themselves in the future.

“Aaron and I decided that, when we had boys, we needed to teach them skills so they can go out and support themselves in life,” Sandy says. “The boys have learned so many things from Aaron. Even if we do not have work for them, Aaron will find something for them to do — cut the grass, paint a room, something so they know they earned the money we give them.”

The Stocktons, who began working with the Board of Child Care in 1994, have even passed on their legacy of caring for other to their own children. Two of their daughters, Kimmy and Karmen Trina, have become foster parents with BCC and live nearby. They all chip in together to support the TFC youth entrusted in their care — everything from ride-sharing to doctor’s appointments to helping with grocery shopping. It really is a family affair.

‘An awesome challenge’

In all, Sandy says their experience as foster parents is not much different from raising her own children. And that’s what Sandy and Aaron tell other parents considering foster care, especially TFC.

“If you have it in your hearts to help children, then TFC is a good way to go,” Sandy says. “It’s a challenge — an awesome challenge — but at the end of the day, it’s rewarding. It’s all worth it.”

This profile originally appeared in our 2014 Annual Report. Click here to view all Annual Reports

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