St. Vincent’s Villa Residential Update
February 12, 2015
I would like to thank everyone who attended one of the Residential All Staff Meetings this past week. For those who were not able to make it, here is a summary:
1. We recognized staff who celebrated a special service anniversary. They include:
• Anne Ober, Director of Nursing 30 years of service
• Jim Zeauskas, Night Child Care Assistant 30 years of service
• Barbara Lowdermilk, Front Desk Receptionist, 25 years of service
• Lauren Owens, Administrative Assistant, 15 years of service
• Mike Wolfe, Program Director, 10 years of service
• Debbie Sorrells, Nurse, 10 years of service
• Lynn Hopkins, Night Child Care Worker, 10 years of service
2. We also recognized our SVV Mission in Action Award recipients—Chanelle Walton, Thomas Jones, Bev Butler and Stephen Kline, and the Catholic Charities Mission in Action Award recipient, Darnell Bias.
When you see any of our Service Award or Mission in Action Award recipients, please thank them. We are incredibly fortunate to have such dedicated, skilled and compassionate staff who go above and beyond to improve the lives of children in our care and their families.
3. Consolidation Update: The timeframe for unit closures/transfers remains the same. Staff who are affected by unit closings have or will be met with to discuss unit assignments. These assignments are based on their preference, supervisory recommendations and need. Our goal is to maintain current teams/relationships as much as possible. The Villa Maria/Dulaney Valley Historical Work Group (chaired by Andrea Commarata) started to identify meaningful things to bring to the Pot Spring building and grounds. If you have suggestions, please let Andrea know. We will have a closing ceremony for the Dulaney Valley building with current and former staff. We will be constructing a 14th bedroom in the Nazareth unit (which will become the one Diagnostic Unit) within the next few months. Recognition was also given to Mike Wolfe and the Phoenix staff for the caring and compassionate manner in which they took care of the children and families during the process of closing the unit.
4. UAC Update: We are hearing the numbers of kids crossing the border is relatively low and current providers are not close to capacity. The kids are not traveling at the same rate as last year and it seems unlikely there will be a need for our services. If we don’t receive a definitive answer by mid-March, we will withdraw our application.
5. Strategic Plan and Opportunities for Growth and Expansion: While we are consolidating our residential program to be in line with the State’s (and National) move to support children safely in their homes, reduce the number of children in residential care, and reduce lengths of stay for those approved for our level of service, we are partnering with the Department of Human Resources and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on exciting opportunities for growth and development. There are new and potential funding sources, which could help us diversify by providing post-discharge services including in-home intervention, respite, day treatment, etc. There’s a lot of work to be done but we are in a great position due to our history of being flexible, forward thinking and state of the art. Our program, division and agency have been at the forefront in innovating and redesigning the system of care in such a way that meets the needs of the children and families we serve.
6. Certification of Residential Child and Youth Care Practitioners: All staff who perform direct care responsibilities in any residential child care program in the State of Maryland will be required to be certified as a RCYCP by 10/1/15. Staff who have worked as a RCYCP in the State for at least two consecutive years will only be required to complete the application. They will not be required to participate in the training or take the Standards Exam to receive certification. To qualify for a certificate, an applicant shall: (1) complete a State and national criminal background check, be either 21 years of age with a minimum of a high school diploma or at least 18 years old with an associates or bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; (2) CPS clearance; (3) complete a minimum 10 hours of on-site program orientation and (4) pass the Standards Exam. Those who do not have an associates or bachelor’s degree will be required to take the training. Certification must be renewed every 2 years with an application and evidence of completion of 20 continuing education hours (only 5 of which can be behavior management training). New staff will need to complete certification process within 180 days of hire. We will begin the application process in the spring.
7. The Staff Development and Training priorities for the year include:
• Behavioral Health Integration
• Sexual Orientation and Sexualized Behaviors
• Various Other Clinical Topics
8. Family Provider Partnership: Bev Butler shared statistics from the second quarter of family satisfaction surveys. Over 70% of our families completed the surveys and about 90% of the families said they would refer our program to a friend. The ratings on the surveys are high, which is a testament to the incredible work you do to partner with families. Bev also shared an inspirational poem and quote which spoke to how families feel about what you do for them.
9. Food Services: Culinary Services Group started two weeks ago and the feedback has been very positive. They will be operating out of the kitchen at DV until the building is no longer open, at which point we will likely move operations to the Pot Spring building.
10. Bedroom Renovation Project at PS: Last year, Joe Fava (a professional interior designer and decorator) visited the bedroom areas at the PS building and expressed an interest in making them a more comfortable and healing environment for the children. He then set out to raise funds for the “St. Vincent’s Villa Bedroom Renovation Project.” Through his circle of friends, family and colleagues, he personally raised close to $40,000 in just a few months. Beginning sometime within the next few months, Joe will help us decorate the 79 bedrooms with new and child-friendly paint, bedding, window treatments and decorations. We will likely be removing the magnetic boards as part of the project.
11. Anne spoke about Infection Control and provided a flu update. We did not reach the 90% goal for staff to receive the flu vaccine. We reached around 60%. But the efforts made have helped minimize the spread of flu and the symptoms for those inflicted.
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 truly make a difference.
Volunteers Needed to Assist Villa Maria School Students
We need assistance with administering the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) which has replaced the Maryland School Assessment (MSA).
The PARCC Assessments, administered in grades 3 through high school, are measures of student achievement in Reading and Mathematics and it meets the federal testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).
We are seeking volunteers to help proctor/provide accommodations. We have a great number of students who will require one-to-one assistance. A brief, mandatory training is required and your school contact will provide you with further information. PARCC Assessments will be administered in March and April 2015.
Villa Maria School at Dulaney Valley Campus
March 2nd 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
March 6th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
March 11th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
April 20th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
April 24th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
April 28th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
School Contact | Daniel Plakosh | 410.252.6343 ext. 129 |
Villa Maria School at Harford County
March 5th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
March 9th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
March 10th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
April 20th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
April 21st 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
School Contact | Angie Jones | 410.297.4100 ext. 4119 |
Villa Maria School at Pot Spring
March 3rd 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
March 4th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
March 5th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
April 21st 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
April 22nd 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
April 23rd 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
School Contact | Tia McLaughlin | 410.252.3725 ext.1515 |
Problem Solving and Coping Skills in a Trauma-Informed Environment
(5th in a series of articles from the Trauma-Informed Care Committee)
Last month, we looked at how demonstrating care and respect for others can result in a positive environment that supports resiliency. This capacity to be resilient (survive and thrive despite challenging or threatening circumstances) can be found in our children and families as well as our staff (paid and unpaid), and is certainly one of the defining qualities of a trauma-informed agency.
This month, in reflecting on problem solving and coping skills and their place in further strengthening a resilient community of care, take a moment to reflect and discuss these two questions with your colleagues:
1. Is the clinical care being provided in our agency strength-based; is it evidence-based; and does it include culturally sensitive strategies/tools that will empower children and families to develop healthy coping skills, problem solve, and make informed choices?
2. Does our entire staff (paid employees, volunteers, interns) recognize and practice self-awareness, self-care, and positive role modeling so that helping others develop healthy coping and problem solving skills regularly occurs in our interactions with clients and each other?
Now, a quote to ponder: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier
Check back again with us next month when our message will explore the importance of optimism and hope in a trauma-informed environment of care.
LEAD Academy Reflection: January 2015
As every LEAD class has been before, the first class of the New Year was one to remember. Lisa Frame and Trisha Ey, two former LEAD Fellows, facilitated a presentation on “Nelson Mandela: An Unconquerable Soul.” As I waited for the presentation to begin I thought to myself, who has not at one point in their life been electrified just by hearing Nelson Mandela’s name. Whether you know of him because of his leadership, or were first introduced to him through his death, Nelson Mandela stirs up a reaction in people that was and is still undeniable. Who would think that on February 11, 1990 a man's release from prison would signify for some the day South Africa went to the dogs? Who would think that release would spark power struggles, violence, and talks of civil war? Who would think that what would actually prevail would be the freedom to vote, the swearing in of the first black president of South Africa, restored dignity, and a rugby game that would unify a racially divided country? These conclusions did not happen in a vacuum; they happened because of traits that characterize Nelson Mandela and his intentional approach to leadership.
While there are innumerable qualities that could be attributed to Nelson Mandela, Lisa and Trisha presented the group with five distinct traits that signified his leadership. First is “Master your meaning and your emotions.” Well what does that mean? To the group it meant to not lead from anger, but try to remove yourself to see the big picture. This does not mean your goals or passions have to change, but you do have to take a moment to detach yourself, think, and clear out the clutter before you respond. Number two stated to “Treat opposers with dignity and turn them into your partners.” For me this is probably the most difficult, yet my favorite trait. The truth is we all have to be partners in order to move forward. We all have to find dignity in the person who is not only fundamentally different from us, but also who we may believe is ignorant. Isn't this what true diversity is really all about? Outside of understanding race, gender, or religion, being able to put your differences aside for the greater good is what really joins us together (Thanks to my mentor, Derek Coelho, for that insight!). The third trait is, “Shift perspectives through symbolism and shared experiences.” Working for Catholic Charities we all have some similar experiences. However, if you work for Early Head Start in Harford County you may not know what happens at Our Daily Bread Employment Center and vice versa. However, we have the mission to love, teach, and serve in common and sharing the experiences we have while fulfilling this mission can unify us. Without these shared experiences, we end up living in our own little part of the agency separate of everyone else. Through sharing, we gain insight on how others see these moments, and that insight can be used to bring in outliers. The fourth trait is “Everybody feels bigger in your presence.” Whether you are speaking with Bill McCarthy or the employee who just finished their orientation yesterday, let them know they are important. Get their perspective on their own work. Learn how to serve people who are serving and figure out how to inspire them. Finally, the fifth lesson is to “Build a sustainable fellowship around your cause.”
I imagine that if you gain authority over the first four traits, building a sustainable fellowship is a given. It is funny, but this last trait reminds me of the line from the movie Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner's character is in the corn field and hears a voice saying, “if you build it he will come.” I believe that if you build these characteristics into your daily life, sustainable fellowship or just as important, sustainable leadership, will come.
The final question posed to the group was about our individual take away from Nelson Mandela. In the spirit of this great leader and his ability to unify, I decided to put the statements together in what I believe sums it all up:
Attempts at positive leadership can sometime result in frustration and negativity.
However, if you master yourself, reflect and be humble enough to know you have so much more; a feeling to do better will drive you.
Let it define you,
only then will you truly be able to reach those who seem to be unreachable.
And when barriers seem impenetrable,
symbols of forgiveness cross every line drawn in the sand.
And when you get to the point where you know your opponent deserves dignity and respect, you don't give up hope because you know we are all survivors, and you practice forgiveness first instead of staying in anger, that is when the power of your legacy becomes
I think I'll call this, “An Indelible Legacy By the 2015 Fellows.”
Karyna Smith is a Home-Based Manager and Family Services Coordinator (FSC) at the Harford County Early Head Start within the Community Services Division and a Fellow in the LEAD Academy Class of 2015. Karyna is directly responsible for the supervision of four Home visitors, the monitoring of health and mental health services for the children and families in our program, as well as developing partnerships with families in order to increase school readiness.
Supporting her in the LEAD program, among others, are her supervisor, Kay Richardson, and her mentor, Derek Coelho, Gift Planning Officer in our Development Office.
LEAD Academy Reflections: January 2015
“You can’t stand still and proceed,” said Richard “Dick” Lombardo, President and CEO of Harkins Builders, to the LEAD class during our January field trip. This month the class got the opportunity to go on a field trip to Harkins Builders in Marriotsville, MD. Harkins Builders is a large company that builds houses for seniors, the homeless, and many other populations. Harkins Builders and Catholic Charities have a long history since 1980. The CEO, Senior Vice President, and Construction Vice President all met with the Fellows to discuss how they lead their company and the challenges they face.
Harkins Builders has an interesting concept of ESOP which means that employees own the company. They believe this is a cornerstone in their company because it attracts employees that want to stay and are interested in the long-term well being of the company. I found this notion similar to Catholic Charities because our culture also attracts employees that are interested in the well-being of our clients. A culture of quality in an organization is crucial and something to always strive for. Also like Catholic Charities, Harkins Builders believes in the importance of a relationship-based company. They realize their success is viewed on the happiness of the clients. This is something we strive for everyday at Catholic Charities - we value the people we serve.
The more we learned about Harkins I couldn’t help but notice how much they are not only invested in their clients but also their employees. The company recognizes that you need to look past your own time and look for the next generation so there is meaning and a reason to be successful. Catholic Charities is always striving to invest in their current employees so we can continue to help people generations from now.
The other Fellows and I believed that the leaders that we met at Harkins shared lots of valuable advice on leadership. Some of the most important lessons to share are how a good leader is always vulnerable and full of integrity. They also stressed to develop your own solutions to issues and have a large team to be able to go to in times of need. The need for developing future leaders in your organization is important not only for the organization but also for the employees in order to feel part of the larger organization. As our LEAD journey continues I am so thankful for the people I have met so far who are helping me to continue to grow as a leader. At the end of the meeting, someone asked about the theme of this year’s LEAD academy, “Leadership Under Fire.” The Senior VP responded with what is my favorite response to best deal with hard situations, saying you just “go hard.”
Kayleigh Coulson is a Therapeutic Support Specialist at the Fallstaff Outpatient Clinic within the Child and Family Services Division and a Fellow in the LEAD Academy Class of 2015. Kayleigh teaches coping and social skills to children and adolescents in the community and through groups at Baltimore City schools and the Fallstaff clinic. Kayleigh also works as an on-call Residential Treatment Counselor 2 at St. Vincent’s Villa – Pot Spring. Supporting her in the LEAD program, among others, are her supervisor, Lisa Giacobbe, and her mentor, Pat Ross, of the Central Services division.