Catholic Charities Child & Family Services

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Catholic Charities Child & Family Services

 Flu Vaccine Update

Mandatory Vaccines Beginning Next Year for Additional Division Staff

In recent years we have done better in the area of flu vaccination rates for our staff, but the fact is that we need to take steps to improve even more in the future.  In the past, we have made it mandatory for our doctors, nurses, and those working with our medically fragile foster children (Hope) program to receive flu vaccines each year.  Other parts of Catholic Charities have also made it mandatory to receive the vaccine, such as St. Elizabeth’s nursing home.  In addition, it is the standard of practice in any medical, nursing or residential facility these days.  While we have made great efforts to educate, encourage and actively cajole our staff to get vaccinated, we are still struggling to reach 60%, and this does not present the needed numbers to establish what is known as “herd immunity”, which requires an 80%-90% rate.  With these facts in mind, I am making the decision that come next year, on November 1, 2016, all staff whose primary worksite is in the St. Vincent’s Villa residential building (including the Annex) and the Villa Maria School buildings will be required to receive a flu vaccination.  
You will be able to get that vaccine from us, or from your own medical provider.  Volunteers who spend regular time on the units with children will be expected to receive the vaccine as well.  Medical contraindications will require documentation from your healthcare provider. If, for religious reasons you are not able to comply, a form will be available for you to request a religious accommodation. No other exceptions will be allowed.    
While no firm decisions have been made with regard to the remaining programs in our division, everyone should be prepared for an expansion of this expectation in the coming years.  
For this year, I continue to implore everyone to consider getting the flu shot, it protects not only you, but all of those around you.
Thanks everyone for your understanding.

Kevin Keegan
Director, Family Services Division
Catholic Charities of Baltimore


Promoting a Culture of Safety Takes a Village

The Behavioral Interventions and Support (BIS) Committee meets on a monthly basis to review and discuss our Behavior Management System, in general, and restraints, in particular.  What cannot be overemphasized or taken for granted is the tremendous progress we have made in strengthening our culture of safety and trauma-informed care approaches, which results in fewer restraints (3 for the month of October), child and staff injuries, allegations of abuse, etc.  We have come a long way in our transformational journey to become a restraint-free environment.  We are at a point in our evolution where each one is considered an exception and not the norm.
Every day, there are multiple examples of how staff (from all departments) use their compassion, professional judgment and competence in their interactions with children in emotional crisis. 
I want to thank each of you for your continued commitment to providing a safe and therapeutic environment for the children.
Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
Ezra Buchdahl



I wanted to give everyone an update on our Electronic Medical Record, known as Avenues.  As in most areas of life, technology is moving from being a convenience to a necessity, and we need to complete the implementation of Avenues to make sure that we stay competitive.

For those who have been around for more than a few years, you have been hearing about Avenues for some time.  Those in our residential, school, TFC, and other programs have been waiting while the implementation of Avenues was completed throughout VMCR.  Over the past year, we have finished the roll-out to all of our clinics, and as I write this we are in the process of going live with Avenues in our BCARS and In-Home programs.  Much of this recent progress has been due to the heroic efforts of a group of “super-users”, who have given countless hours of their time to test, train and mentor; which has clearly paid off now that we are just about done this phase.  There is no way to adequately thank this group for their efforts.  In addition, the partnership from IT, as well as leadership from Rob Canosa and others has been the difference maker in making it to the finish line for VMCR. 

We are also excited to announce that in recent weeks, we have now brought together the leadership from our IT Department with our TFC and Residential programs to plan the next phase of the roll-out.  Jan Carson, who has been invaluable to the first phase of implementation of Avenues, will be continuing her leadership on the next phase.  Everyone in these areas will soon be hearing more about the detailed plans, but I thought that it would we be good for me to give everyone a quick “heads up” to what we are discussing.

We anticipate that within the next 6 months, our TFC and residential programs will ready to “go live” with Avenues.    The specific timing is still being worked out, and many of you will be asked to play some role in the planning and implementation.  Following this phase, we will then begin rolling out the school.  If being a part of this implementation is something that interests you, please make sure to let us know.

Avenues will not be a program that is used for our Gallagher programs, as we are working on a separate roll-out of the Carematic system.

Thanks again to everyone who has played a role in getting us to where we are now.  I am very excited as we are beginning to see the finish line.

Kevin Keegan
Director, Family Services Division
Catholic Charities of Baltimore





Anne Arundel County Therapist Receives FPP Award

Emily Feeley, a therapist for Villa Maria Behavioral Health Services of Anne Arundel County, was recently honored with the Family Provider Partnership (FPP) Recognition Award.  This award is given by Catholic Charities Family Services to individuals, teams or programs who best demonstrate the principles of partnering with families, which is one of the most essential elements in the provision of excellent care and treatment.
Emily earned the award based on feedback obtained from the families of youth she sees.  Following is a quote from one such family member:  “{Emily} has done a great job with providing us the tools on how to manage our child at home.  Emily is a wonderful therapist.”  The family member went on to commend Emily for ensuring that siblings were included in therapy and helping family members interact positively with each other.
Congratulations to Emily – she is an excellent representative of the many dedicated and skilled clinicians who work within Villa Maria Behavioral Health Services and throughout the agency!
Jon Hackbarth
Director of Centralized Services
Chair, Family Provider Partnership Committee
Emily Feeley

Introduction to Play Therapy Training

Please see the attached flyer for details about an upcoming training entitled "Introduction to Play Therapy," scheduled for Friday, November 13, 9 AM - 12:15 PM, St. Vincent's Villa in Timonium. This training is targeted to licensed clinical staff and is limited to 40 participants (additional trainings may be scheduled if there is sufficient demand). Registration will generally be on a first come, first served basis with some exceptions made based on priorities within departments.


Fallstaff Retreat

On October 16, the staff from Villa Maria at Fallstaff gathered for their retreat.  The day included team building, bowling, and group cheers.  Because the staff typically work independently across city in variety of schools and Headstart programs, it was a great opportunity to come together for some friendly competition and fun.







Ambrose & Lansdowne Staff

Working Together & Transforming Lives of Children

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is receiving notes of appreciation from people whose lives have been changed as a result of the services provided by our amazing people throughout Catholic Charities.  I thought I would share a couple that I recently received.  The first came through a personal message on Facebook, when the person realized that their friend was a CC employee.  And the second came from a child on one of our residential units.  I hope you enjoy them…

Peace and Thanks,


Kevin Keegan

Director, Family Services Division

Catholic Charities of Baltimore


“I saw your post and just realized you work for Catholic Charities. I had to take a moment to tell you what amazing work you all do! [My son] and I have been working with Catholic Charities at the Lansdowne office for about 2 years and it's been the most amazing experience I could have ever asked for! I am so blessed to be able to have the resource and can honestly say I don't know where we would be without Catholic Charities- he's made so much progress it's astounding. I just had to take a moment and thank you for the difference you all make! It took me awhile to understand and truly believe that therapy is not a sign of weakness, but rather strength. Please feel free to share our story. You all need to be reminded what great work you do. When we started with Catholic Charities I was desperate and felt helpless. [My son] was so angry all the time, and although his school is amazing with incredible resources, they were on the verge of expulsion for his and other student's safety. [My son] is now a straight A student, a social butterfly, and was named "Best Behavior" in class last week. There isn't a doubt in my mind that working with you guys has completely [changed] our lives. I don't mean to ramble, I just think you guys are absolutely incredible. Even when you don't realize it, you are changing and shaping lives.”







Save the Date 

Villa Maria School Winter Festival










From SAMHSA’s Trauma-Informed Approach: Key Assumptions and Principles

Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well being.

Events and circumstances may include the actual or extreme threat of physical or psychological harm (i.e. natural disasters, violence, etc.) or severe, life-threatening neglect for a child that imperils healthy development.  These events and circumstances may occur as a single occurrence or repeatedly over time.

The individual’s experience of these events or circumstances helps to determine whether it is a traumatic event.  A particular event may be experienced as traumatic for one individual and not for another. How the individual labels, assigns meaning to, and is disrupted physically and psychologically by an event will contribute to whether or not it is experienced as traumatic.  Feelings of humiliation, guilt, shame, betrayal, or silencing often shape the experience of the event.  How the event is experienced may be linked to a range of factors including the individual’s cultural beliefs, availability of social supports, or to the developmental stage of the individual.

The long-lasting adverse effects of the event are a critical component of trauma.  These adverse effects may occur immediately or may have a delayed onset. The duration of the effects can be short to long term.  In some situations, the individual may not recognize the connection between the traumatic events and the effects. Traumatic effects, which may range from hyper-vigilance or a constant state of arousal, to numbing or avoidance, can eventually wear a person down, physically, mentally, and emotionally.


Villa Trail Now (More) Accessible

Recently, we had some volunteers help clear the trailhead behind the Villa Maria School at Dulaney Valley. Although most of the various trails need lots more work, we managed to clear a wonderful path from the trailhead to the outdoor classroom. See the attached before and after shots. The classroom is about a five minute walk from the school parking lot.
Many thanks to the volunteers from Stevenson University, as well as Lauren Porter and her husband Larry, plus everyone’s favorite Project SERVEist, Mike Carr.
Mikael Kristiansen
Volunteer Coordinator
Catholic Charities Family Servicesalt




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Child & Family Services

Our Vision:
Catholic Charities Child and Family Services will be a National model of a fully-integrated system of innovative, effective, state-of-the-art programs that assists children, adults and families to achieve their full potential.

Our Mission:
Catholic Charities Child and Family Services provides an integrated, state-of-the-art, comprehensive system of care that includes: child welfare; delinquency diversion; behavioral health; special education; and early-childhood and family-development services that assist children, adults and families to achieve their full potential.

Our Values:
Respect Partnership Knowledge Excellence Diversity Data-driven
Cherishing the Divine Within