Catholic Charities Child & Family Services

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Catholic Charities Child & Family Services

LEAD Academy Reflection

I thought the LEAD Academy was over after our presentation on April 17.  This tells you how much I know.  But this was a good thing.  How many of you know what sociometry really means?
I have heard of the word sociometry and read the definition, yet I still didn’t quite get it. While studying the relationship between social structures and psychological wellbeing, Psychiatrist Jacob Moreno coined the term sociometry. Sociometry is a quantitative method measuring social interpersonal relationships. Mari Pat McGuire began the class by talking about how to shift the culture, make connections, and bring people together by believing in a mission.  Two people who exemplify these characteristics are Nelson Mandela and the nation’s rugby team and Abraham Lincoln in naming his rivals to his Cabinet.
To begin a sociometric exercise it is important at the beginning for everyone to understand that by choosing one person they are not rejected others.  Instead, it should be noted that people are often attracted to others, but rarely have the opportunity to tell them about it.  Each of these choices is an interpersonal gift to that other person, as stated by Alton Barbour.
We did a number of exercises.  Mari Pat announced criterion, such as who here seems to have qualitites or traits that you would like to see in yourself?  We were then told to go to that person and place our hand on their shoulder. While this is in action, the person they chose will also be choosing someone based on the same criterion.  Because of the choices, it can be expected to be unequally distributed.  Each choice might lead to the formation of a small group or a chain of choices. Once the choices were made, Mari Pat suggested that we talk with that person about why that person fits that particular criterion for attraction. It was interesting to see how the group dynamics worked. 
We also discussed “work atoms”-- communication in interpersonal relationships.  This was illustrated through a diagram that represented the relationship between the self and all individuals or issues with whom we are emotionally related.  The diagram begins with you in the middle with a circle surrounded by hearts, representing hope, wishes and dreams; squares representing committees; and rectangles representing issues/concerns. The placement of these diagrams to the circle depicts the need to communicate now or later.  If the hearts and committees are near the circle, then communication lines are open and good; if the diagram, like the rectangle is far away from circle, you may have work life challenges with staff, peer or others that need to be addressed now.  This is a tool that you could use now to measure your effectiveness.
Next, Mari Pat presented us with a poem on leadership by Adrienne Rich.  We read the poem several times, and then were asked that each person should repeat out loud a word or portion that speaks to them and explain.  I selected the phrase, “remembering your name.” The most important and memorable of my experience in the LEAD Academy has been the people I met.
Pat Bennett is a Manager of Employment Services at Our Daily Bread Employment Center and a Fellow in the LEAD Academy Class of 2015. Her position includes managing a team of four, negotiating employment opportunities with potential employers, and providing job readiness trainings to low income clients. Supporting her in this journey, among others, are her supervisor, Christine Kay, and her mentor, Susan Franklin.

Maria Busko Graduates from Leadership Baltimore County    

Volunteer Services Manager Maria Busko has completed the ten month Leadership Baltimore County (LBC) program and recently received her diploma in a ceremony held at the historic Grey Rock Mansion in Pikesville. 
Along with about 35 other senior level leaders selected in a competitive application process from many different organizations in Baltimore County, Maria went through a series of experiential activities that explored Baltimore County’s challenges and issues, including economic development, public safety, social services, education and health. Leadership Baltimore County activities include field trips to different organizations, police ride-alongs, shadowing a school principal and working at a shelter.  The program is designed to utilize the talents of the participants to make Baltimore County a better place to live and work and to enhance each participant’s leadership skills.
Maria successfully completed all of the requirements of the program and is now applying what she learned in her work at Catholic Charities. 
Congratulations, Maria!

Farewell to Jen Lochte and Welcome Sara Ross

We say goodbye to Jen Lochte who is leaving her position as the Program Supervisor of the Towson Clinic to move to North Carolina.    Jen accomplished many things in the agency, first in the Residential Treatment Center, then as a pioneer in school  based mental health services, and for many years as  the manager of  our behavioral health clinics in  Anne Arundel County and Towson.  Everyone who met her will say that she was always pleasant and positive, but many of us also have deep respect for the skill Jen showed while facing very challenging situations and while accomplishing so much.  She is tough and resilient as rubber nails and made a positive difference for hundreds of children, adults and family members.
Sara Ross, LCSW-C  is the new manager at the Towson clinic.  Sara also has a background in Residential Treatment services, and has an extensive background providing school based mental health services and clinic services to individuals and families in the Parkville, Loch Raven, and Towson communities.  Sara is known for her poise, clinical skill and perseverance.  She is a strong advocate for families, and is one of less than a dozen therapists in the state who are trained in Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), which is an evidenced based practice that serves children ages 3-8 with significant behavior problems.   Sara will be working along with Bonnie Pfeffer and colleagues to take the Towson clinic services to the next level, both growing the clinic in the number served,  and enhancing the outcomes.  We are looking forward to having Sara as a leader, a colleague and a coach.

Blood Drive

Because of Catholic Charities Blood Drive on June 11, up to 78 patients' lives were saved. Blood donation is the act of giving life.  Every donation can save up to 3 lives.  During the summer months fewer people donate.  This year we had a 37% increase in donors from 2014!!!
So a Big THANK YOU to all who participated in making this year’s blood drive a HUGE SUCCESS. 
Beth Lewis
Ornelia Gillum
George McCullough
Monireh Vossoughi
Nicole Gorski
Mark Greenberg
Tom Cauley
Diane Polk
Letisha Tyrell
Emily Toler
Melissa Wengler
Keynica Robinson
Kim Kiriazoglou
Melissa Hamburg
Nicole Alexander
Robin Cauley
Rebecca Biedenback
Jennifer Concepcion
Susan Straus
Jack Pumphrey
Brian Trees
Chris Donaldson
Tennese Bryant
Becky Stein
Jon Hackbarth
Carl Fornoff
Aggie Callahan
Mikael Kristiansen
Debbie Sorrels
Lorraine King
Judy Wilson
Erika Abrams
Suzie Templeton
Bev Butler
Jan Carson
Celena Hoey
Steve Branson
Ellen Warnock
Dan Plakosh
Thomas Jones
Anthony Jules
Kevin Keegan
Anne Ober


LEAD Academy Reflection

Let me start by saying I have never been to the aquarium without children and I had a completely different experience during the LEAD field trip than anytime I have ever been there in the past. One Fellow felt guilty for having so much fun there without her children. I felt completely relaxed, which I do not get to experience a great deal with a 4 and a 7 year old at home.

It started as any other day, anticipating another exciting field trip arranged for us by the LEAD Committee. The National Aquarium was to be even more special because it would be our last trip together before commencement, and the Aquarium administrators are developing their own leadership program for their employees based on Catholic Charities’ LEAD program, which is an enormous compliment. They picked our brains about how to go about developing it in a way which supports the expansion of world-renowned programs here in Baltimore and supports the staff making it happen.

Our day started in the 4D theatre where we watched  “Sea Monsters.” It was more of an experience than a movie viewing. Water and wind sprayed us at various parts of the movie, and we were educated about the life of “Dolly,” a prehistoric sea creature whose bones had been discovered in 1812 in Kansas.

We met a Hyacinth McCaw who said “hello” and only visits with guests because she is not on display at the Aquarium. She works throughout each day with various trainers so as not to get attached to any one in particular and practices skills which make her better able to respond to emergency medical procedures if ever needed, such as putting on an oxygen mask. The trainer who introduced us to the McCaw, Christine, was a delight as she was so passionate about her work.

We were then free to explore the aquarium on our own and the same approach was taken in the dolphin training experience that Christine facilitated with the McCaw. They cancelled the dolphin shows a few years ago and now educate the public at various times throughout the day about the training the dolphins experience, which helps them thrive in the aquarium environment. Their rewards for practicing their fin movements consist of pushing balls with their noses and eating fish. The staff told us they make changes in programming according to feedback received from attendees and this seems to have been a positive change as the dolphin experience is now included in the price of admission.

The National Aquarium also had to adjust and make changes in programming due to attendance levels which were negatively impacted by the curfew imposed as a result of riots that took place in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015. The negative image Baltimore has received in the aftermath has affected tourism and businesses that rely on worldwide attention have suffered. Our 2015 theme “Leadership under Fire” has been applicable to the Aquarium during the attendance shortfalls in April and they appear to have handled it with grace, being as truthful with concerned guests as possible. Guests have been calling prior to their planned visits, asking if they would be safe. The Aquarium has been making assurances, but the numbers do not lie.  The Aquarium may have to sacrifice future programming if attendance does not pick up, so I would encourage everyone in and near Baltimore to take a trip to local businesses which rely on tourism.

One of the newest additions to the National Aquarium is the touch exhibit which opened on May 12, 2015. Guests are encouraged to touch jellyfish and sting rays in order to feel their skin and educators are on hand for any questions. The exhibit is bright and seems to have filled a once empty space from which it is still easy to view the black-tipped reef below. It surprised me how nervous I was to touch an animal, but I quickly encourage my children when they have the opportunity to experience something live up-close and personal. I was glad to have a different experience at the National Aquarium and plan to take my children again soon so they can see the new exhibits that were not there when they went last summer.

I was completely surprised how relaxing my experience was. I encourage you to go by yourself sometime to the National Aquarium and to listen to the soothing music, reflect on the movement of the water, take in the beauty of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and appreciate our connection to the ocean. It will surely help you become a better leader in your own right.

Kerry Ford Morancy is a Therapist at the Fallstaff outpatient mental health clinic and a Fellow in the LEAD Academy Class of 2015. Kerry works mainly at Pimlico Elementary/Middle school providing individual and family counseling and prevention activities such as small groups and teacher presentations. Supporting her in this journey, among others, are her supervisor, Sherry Sullivan, and her mentor, Kristen Kinkopf of Mission Integration and Planning.



Living the Mission | To Serve 

 “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40


It is remarkable how often I experience some vivid reminder of how our team lives the mission of Catholic Charities. Many time these reminders come in the form of a success story, where our staff helped someone to reach an amazing goal. Sadly, sometimes these reminders come in the form of a tragedy, where our team goes above and beyond to support those who have experienced a loss. My most recent reminder was, unfortunately, one of these events.

Our HOPE program, part of our Treatment Foster Care program through Center for Family Services, works with infants and children in the foster care system that have medical needs requiring intensive attention from specially-trained treatment foster parents, nurses and social workers. The ultimate goal of the HOPE Program is to provide children with a nurturing, stabile placement while their health is stabilized and their permanency plan is addressed. Many HOPE children are reunified with their birth families, while others are placed for adoption. Tragically, on occasion a child succumbs to their illnesses while they are with us, and the most we can do is to make sure that each day they have is the best it can be.

It is overwhelming for me when I sit and reflect on how special the foster parents are who make this commitment, to welcome a foster child into their home, to fill that child with love as a member of the family, to take care of their every need, and hopefully nurture that child to good health. Then, in the worst scenario, to spend days and weeks at a child’s bedside as their illness overcomes them and they slowly slip away. And they don’t do this alone…they are surrounded by our staff of social workers and nurses from the HOPE program and CFS.

It becomes very clear that people don’t live the mission of Catholic Charities because this is their job…this is who they are before they ever come to Catholic Charities, and when people arrive here they find a common bond in being surrounded by others sharing these same values. There are no words to describe how humbled I am to be surrounded by such amazing people who give of themselves beyond what anyone could expect of them.

Thanks to everyone for doing what you do.



Kevin Keegan Director, Child and Family Services Division Catholic Charities of Baltimore





St. Vincent’s Villa Residential Update

I would like to thank everyone who attended one of the Residential All Staff Meetings this past week.  For those who were unable to attend, here is a summary:
1.We recognized staff who celebrated a special service anniversary.  They include:
  • Kathy Morse, Utilization Review Specialist, 35 years of service
  • Ann Pullen, Sr. Residential Treatment Counselor 30 years of service
  • Carol Taylor, Front Desk Receptionist, 25 years of service
  • Zenobia Scott, Night Child Care Worker, 25 years of service
  • Jennifer Foster, Program Director, 15 years of service
  • Christy Ferguson, Staff Development Coordinator, 10 years of service
  • Tennese Bryant, Milieu Supervisor, 10 years of service
  • Latasha Kearise, Behavioral Specialist, 10 years of service
  • Mary MacDougal, Front Desk Receptionist, 10 years of service
  • Del Oliver, Behavioral Specialist, 10 years of service
  • Crag Smith, Night Child Care Worker, 10 years of service
  • Marci Kogan, Family Navigator, 5 years of service

2.We also recognized our SVV Mission in Action Award Recipients—Michelle Ash, Mike Wolfe, and Lauren Tozzi.

When you see any of our Service Award or Mission in Action award recipients, please thank them for their incredible dedication and service.

3.Consolidation Update: Our timeline for the completion of the consolidation remains theGenesis and Nazareth will consolidate into one diagnostic unit around the first of July and Gonzaga will close and Ambrose relocate to PS at the end of August.  I want to commend all the staff (particularly those from Phoenix, Sojourner, Ambrose, Gonzaga, Genesis and Nazareth) for the way in which they have handled all the changes and ensured smooth transitions for the children and families and the same high quality of care and treatment.

There are a number of Pot Spring renovations underway or will be soon, including: (1) the expansion of the training room by removing the wall between the current training room and the old movie theater (separating the rooms with an accordion wall); (2) the conversion of the Illuminations gallery (next to the chapel) into another conference room; and (3) the bedroom renovation project, which will begin sometime in July; and (4) the addition of the 14th bedroom in current Nazareth/future Genesis.

4.Program Updates:

  • Our field of residential treatment continues to evolve and change.  We have shifted our paradigm and treatment approaches to better align the program with a more community- based system of care and with a greater emphasis on evidence-based practice.  We are on the right path with becoming more family-focused and community-based and playing a larger role in helping stabilize families so children can be safer.  In order to do this, we have to be able to work more closely with the communities where families live. This is our future.
  • There is recognition that the needs of the children we are serving now have increased dramatically, having suffered many levels of trauma in their lives.  We need you to tell us what you need in terms of training and support in order to continue to be successful.
  • There are 4 things we want and need to be best at:
¨       Supporting and training staff
¨       Developing high levels of trauma awareness and sensitivity
¨       Developing family engagement skills
¨       Preparing kids to be successful in safe and stable families
  • Residential care needs to be looked at not as a placement but as a short-term treatment intervention.
  • We are at the forefront of the residential evolution because of our:
¨       Rich history and expertise in providing high quality treatment
¨       Family Provider Partnership Program
¨       Innovative Home-Based RTC Model
¨       Trauma-Informed Care Approach/SURF Model and our therapists trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
¨       Discharge Care Coordinator Position and how Erika helps to ensure families are connected with services and supports in their community
¨       Large continuum of care within Catholic Charities Child and Family Services
¨       Staff Development and Training Program
¨       Outcomes Orientation
¨       YOU.  We are at the forefront of the residential evolution because our staff are doing the hard, mission-driven work, looking beyond the behavior, meeting kids and families where they are at and helping them get better

5.What are some of the ways we measure success?

  • Formal measurement tools such as the CANS (Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths) and CASII (Child and Adolescent Services Intensity Instruments)
  • Results of audits and licensing and accreditation reviews
  • Recidivism rates, % of discharge to lower levels of care, lengths of stay
  • Family and Child Satisfaction Surveys and Comments.  Last week, a mother sent the following e-mail: “Thank you all for your help.  Your organization has been nothing but a blessing to our family.  When I was completely broken and oblivious to how I could make it through another day without losing my mind completely, and terrified that my daughter would eventually be raped or killed because of her extremely self-destructive behavior, and unable to stop myself from randomly sobbing uncontrollably, you guys stepped up and saved us.  You gave us our baby back and I will be forever grateful.”
  • 90% of families would refer a friend to our program.
  • Recent Child Satisfaction Survey Results from 30 Children (scale from 1 to 5):
¨       Do you feel safe?     4.1
¨       Staff cares about you and helps you when needed.   4.6
¨       Do you play and have fun with staff?    4.2
¨       When you feel upset is there someone you can talk to on the units?   4.4
¨       Do your units have SURF meetings?   4.5

6.Closing Ceremony at Dulaney Valley: Please join us to celebrate the more than a half century of life changing work with children and families on Friday, August 28th from 12:30p.m. to 3:30p.RSVP no later than August 17th to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  If you have contact with former VM staff, please extend the invitation.  Special thanks to the Villa Maria Historical Committee for planning such a special event.

7.Bedroom Renovation Project Update: Joe Fava, the Interior Decorator, personally raised over $33,000 for the children’s bedroom renovationAll 77 bedrooms will be painted (he selected a variety of rich, bright colors; likely 3 different colors in each unit) with matching (Velcro) window treatments, area rugs, bean bag chairs, and bedding.  We will begin with the current Genesis (future Ambrose) space after the unit closes and before Ambrose moves in.  We will then wait a month or so to see how it all works and if there is anything we want to change before we proceed with the other units.  I presented the renderings/model.  Please stop by my office if you would like to see them.  Your feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions for improvement, please don’t hesitate to let me know.  Thank you for all you do to improve lives.  You make a difference.

LEAD Academy Reflection: March 2015

 “You do not always need to have all of the answers.”

“It is ok to make mistakes.”

“We all need help from others from time to time.”

“You really can lead from any chair.”

These were just some of the thoughts I had during the panel discussion by some of our agency’s great leaders. On March 13, 2015, the LEAD Academy class participated in a panel discussion with the Executive Director, Bill McCarthy, and Division Directors of Catholic Charities. Prior to the panel discussion each LEAD member was asked to think of a question they would like to ask some of the leaders. After formulating a list of questions, the class was prepared to hear from the directors on how they are able to demonstrate this year’s theme, Leadership under Fire, along with what helps them be the leaders that they are. Some of the questions asked of the panel included questions about how they encourage others to lead from any chair, how they maintain a work/life balance and self-care, and what mistakes have they made in the past and how would they learn from it. While the responses did vary based on the various backgrounds and positions held, there was a clear connection between all panel members. Regardless of what the mistake was or what the stressors were from their position, they all agreed that every failure is an opportunity for growth. When it came to discussing work/life balance, they all agreed in the necessity of taking care of themselves in order to be the best they can be in their position.  It was also stressed that anyone, no matter the position, can lead from any chair. I left feeling that leadership is not about your title in an agency; rather, it is about encouraging others to see their true potential, building confidence in others, creating a sense of teamwork and encouraging others to find solutions. 

Stacey Gray is a Therapist at the Abingdon outpatient mental health clinic and a Fellow in the LEAD Academy Class of 2015. She provides individual and family counseling to children and adults, as well as case management services. Supporting her in this journey, among others, are her supervisor, Anne Marie Porretti, and her mentor, Melissa Jenkins of the Child and Family Services division.


Living the Mission | A Message of Appreciation

The past 6 weeks have been a tumultuous time here in Baltimore, beginning in the final week of April and continuing through May. We have witnessed record-setting levels of violence in our City and throughout this time, many of our staff provided services and supports to those directly impacted by the turmoil.  I am continually impressed and humbled by the work we are doing across the division and want to offer some specific appreciation for this work over the past month. 

I talk often about how our division has shifted away from some of our more traditional campus-based services, and towards work that is based directly in the community, in schools, and in the homes of our clients.  During months such as these, it provides a visceral reminder that this shift places our staff in the midst of some risky and dangerous situations. 

  • We have staff in over 30 public schools, most of which are in West Baltimore, including Douglass High School where the worst day of rioting initiated.  I was disturbed by some of the observations and stories I heard from our therapists in City schools, and also touched by the insights and compassion for the situation that the kids and families are facing on a daily basis. 
  • Our staff continued with their home visits all over Baltimore and in the neighborhoods most impacted by the violence, and at times found themselves right in the midst of some frightening situations.
  • Our BCARS team has fielded a very high volume of crisis calls, many of which were directly connected to the riots.  Many of the youth who were assessed demonstrated clear signs of trauma directly related to the recent events. 
  • Shirlene Littlejohn, Celena Hoey and Janet Herilla provided crisis support on-site during and after Freddie Gray’s funeral service. 
  • We have worked very closely with City Police to provide crisis counseling to officers who have been involved.  Many of our team members have spent late hours and weekends at City Police precincts to help the officers’ deal with their own trauma and experiences related to these events.  The following staff supported this effort:  Javon Blue, Jeanne Sweeney, Celena Hoey, Courtney Brouse, Ezra Buchdahl, Andrea Commarata, Steve Branson, Suzie Templeton, Melissa Jenkins, Sue Franklin, and Diane Shannon.

The selfless and tireless efforts of our staff to support people who are struggling and who live the Mission of Catholic Charities every day, is to be commended.  I have received messages of appreciation from the police department, BHS Baltimore, the City Health Department, as well as heard many comments from those at City Hall who are so appreciative of all of our efforts. 

There is no way to adequately thank people for your efforts, but please know how much they have been noticed and appreciated by so many.



Kevin M. Keegan, Division Director




School to Get iPads!

On May 27, 2015 Jack Pumphrey, Education Director of Villa Maria Schools, was presented  a check for $6000 at the 63rd Annual Donor Luncheon of the Covenant Guild.  The money is to be used to purchase IPADS for the Villa Maria Schools Diagnostic School program.    The IPADS will be used by students as they download books to read, write stories and reports, and build stronger foundations in math, phonics, reading, and writing.  IPADs can encourage curiosity and discovery with lots of educational programming. There is so much information for students to learn today and IPADS help make that possible.   “Hats off to Covenant Guild” for their generous donation and to Carol Gilbert, our Education Director for the Diagnostic program and a member of the Guild, who made all of this possible.

Another Successful Night at My Sister’s Place

The Health Services Department prepared dinner for My Sister's Place recently. Some volunteers were not able to attend due to various emergent situations, however the small crew managed well with the help of Chief Angelo (Kim Kiriazoglou’s husband). He prepared the homemade meatballs, sauce  and made the pasta. The guests loved the homemade meatballs and the salad. Most ate everything on their plate and  all enjoyed the cookies. Special thanks to Charlene, Debbie, Kristy, Deniese, Kim and Angelo for this wonderful evening.  

The “Missionettes”


Jon Hackbarth Director of Centralized Services Catholic Charities Child and Family Services St. Vincent’s Villa 

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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