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HCPS works through Harvey to serve clients, community
Published on August 31, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in Newsletter
Evelyn Emdin, HCPS Kinder Emergency Shelter program manager, and the 14 youth under her watch worked together to devise a plan for additional food items on Sunday. They had been sheltered-in-place throughout Hurricane Harvey and remained optimistic. “It was so exciting and amazing to know the strength of these children,” Emdin said Tuesday. Emdin was one of several HCPS staff members who remained at the Youth Services Center throughout the record-breaking Houston disaster, and many more staff who remained committed to the community and their clients from the first day. “Judge Ed Emmett has encouraged staff to volunteer this week, while our buildings are closed. But what’s amazing about our HCPS staff is they didn’t need that encouragement,” said Joel Levine, HCPS executive director. “They were already in the community, helping the public and each other.” Community Youth Services (CYS) staff have volunteered at major shelters, such as those at the George R. Brown Convention Center and NRG Stadium, as well as those in their own communities. Kristen Ballard, a CYS program manager, said one of her staff members arranged the setup for a shelter. CYS is a crisis intervention program housed in the community, primarily within schools, to provide counseling and assistance to youth experiencing crises. “It’s normal that our staff would be among the first to volunteer,” Ballard said. “It’s very typical of who they are as people and the work that they do.” Emdin and many staff members did not pause their work throughout the storm. Staff with the Guardianship Program has worked with clients under the care of HCPS since Thursday to first ensure each had the necessary supplies and disaster plans, checked on each client throughout the storm and is now personally delivering items to clients. Guardianship serves as the court-appointed guardian to more than 1,100 elderly and disabled adults in Harris County. Meanwhile, Emdin, and staff ensured the needs of the youth were met throughout the event and kept youth in the shelter occupied with arts, crafts, movies and other activities throughout the weekend. An on-sight therapist, and staff from TRIAD Mental Health and Intake Diversion also assisted the shelter over the weekend and this week.  The Kinder Emergency Shelter is a temporary home-like facility for youth experiencing familial family crises. Bernadette Green, HCPS operator/receptionist, was among the overnight staff who could not leave the building Saturday night and remained in place until Tuesday. She helped answer calls from the community, directing them to resources and organizations who are accepting donations. As Green prepared to leave for home Tuesday, she reflected on her four days in the building and all the stories she had heard about staff assisting clients. “It says that we care,” she said. “We’re here for these kids and the community in any way we can be. I’m proud of that.”
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Jobs Help Foster Youth Overcome Legal Challenges

Published on June 9, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in Press Releases

Every year approximately 200 foster youth in Harris County age out or emancipate from the foster care system. Children who age out of care are more susceptible to negative outcomes due to a lack of traditional family support and opportunities. The challenges they face such as homelessness, unemployment, poverty and even incarceration can hinder a successful transition to adulthood.

 The HAY Center, a program of Harris County Protective Services, is pleased to announce that it has received a $10,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation in support of Overcoming Legal Challenges Faced by Current and Former Foster Care Youth to Gain Stability and Self-Sufficiency.  The support from the Texas Bar Foundation will allow the HAY Center to offer foster youth involved with the courts and judicial system with paid internship opportunities to earn money to pay court related costs, fees, and fines; thus avoiding additional complications.  This also allows youth to gain valuable workforce experience, and help build skills needed for employment. Mary Green, Director of the HAY Center states:  “We are so grateful to the Texas Bar Foundation for their support of the HAY Center and our mission.   Giving youth the opportunity to pay off their court fees through employment will allow them to move forward with their goals of education and employment.”   

The HAY Center provides an array of services and supports to more than 1,100 current and former foster youth each year ages 16 through 25.  These youth and young adults are often times navigating the transition to adulthood with little in the way of family support.   Through the support of the Texas Bar Foundation the HAY Center is able to help youth earn money to become responsible for their obligations under the law and become contributing members of the community.

Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $17 million in grants to law-related programs.  Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation's largest charitably-funded bar foundation. 

Recent News

HCPS offers new parenting class 
Published on October 19, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in Newsletter
Free one-day parenting classes are now available through the HCPS JP Court Liaisons program.   The second round of “Teen Awareness” classes begins this fall, in addition to parenting classes offered through the TRIAD Prevention Program. The classes are open to the general public, as well as those required by court.   “We wanted to offer an additional service for those individuals who are due back to court, and there are no PLL (Parenting with Love and Limits) and PTS (Parent/Teen Survival) classes available or scheduled,” said Shenetha Toliver, JP Court program specialist.   Teenagers and their parents will attend two separate group sessions during the class. Parents will discuss tips regarding their child’s grades and attendance and building relationships with school officials. Students will learn about goal setting and decision-making, proper ways to show respect, social media etiquette and the dangers of running away and human trafficking.   The Teen Awareness class was piloted last school year with three one-day classes. More than 150 parents and teenagers attended the classes.   “The class is one day, but the skills our participants learn are far more long-lasting,” said ...
HCPS works through Harvey to serve clients, community 
Published on August 31, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in Newsletter
Evelyn Emdin, HCPS Kinder Emergency Shelter program manager, and the 14 youth under her watch worked together to devise a plan for additional food items on Sunday. They had been sheltered-in-place throughout Hurricane Harvey and remained optimistic. “It was so exciting and amazing to know the strength of these children,” Emdin said Tuesday. Emdin was one of several HCPS staff members who remained at the Youth Services Center throughout the record-breaking Houston disaster, and many more staff who remained committed to the community and their clients from the first day. “Judge Ed Emmett has encouraged staff to volunteer this week, while our buildings are closed. But what’s amazing about our HCPS staff is they didn’t need that encouragement,” said Joel Levine, HCPS executive director. “They were already in the community, helping the public and each other.” Community Youth Services (CYS) staff have volunteered at major shelters, such as those at the George R. Brown Convention Center and NRG Stadium, as well as those in their own communities. Kristen Ballard, a CYS program manager, said one of her staff members arranged the setup for a shelter. CYS ...
HCPS Clinic prescribes back-to-school fun & health 
Published on August 1, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in Newsletter
John C., 14, gleefully raised his hand when his raffle number was called Saturday at the first-ever HCPS Integrated Healthcare Clinic Family Fun Day & Health Fair. He won a donated $25 gift card for ALDI. “What I’m going to do is get some stuff I really need,” John said. “What I really need are snacks! Because when I go to school, I’m going to need it.” John was one of more than 120 children who attended the fair, an effort for the HCPS Integrated Healthcare Clinic to help children and the community prepare for the coming school year. The fair included free vaccinations, school supplies, bike helmets, food, games and giveaways, many from sponsors. ALDI donated $1,000 in gift cards, the AT&T Pioneers donated school supplies, Cigna donated backpacks and Texas Children’s Hospital donated bike helmets and bike lights. Wesley Windom, of Respectful Zone Emergency Shelter, said he brought John and 15 other youth to the fair as a regular weekend outing. “This was a lot of fun for them,” Windom said. “A great way to spend a Saturday morning.” More than ...
HCPS leader speaks to Hogg Foundation podcast 
Published on July 14, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in In the News
Two years ago, the Hogg Foundation commissioned an evaluation of the Harris County Protective Services (HCPS) Integrated Health Care Program for Foster Children, a pilot program funded in 2012 and launched in 2014. The program led to the creation of the HCPS Integrated Health Care Clinic, which adapts the integrated health care model to foster care settings. Joining host Ike Evans to speak about the program’s successes and limitations is Jacquelyn McMillon, Children’s Services Administrator at the clinic. Kate Murphy, a policy associate at Texans Care for Children, follows up McMillon’s insights with a special report on the 85th legislative session’s impact on child welfare at large. Read more on the Hogg Foundation website.
HCPS executive director highlights values in keynote speech 
Published on July 13, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in Newsletter
HCPS employees embodied the department’s core values during Thursday’s “Employee Appreciation Ceremony and Core Values Inauguration.” As part of the bi-annual all-staff Executive Forum, employees received awards and demonstrated the new HCPS values. More than 300 employees participated in the event at the Power Center, divided between morning and afternoon sessions. Executive Director Joel Levine kicked off each session with the keynote speech, explaining how the most recent HCPS initiative – first-ever core values – affects all other parts of HCPS and its clients. The HCPS values, released earlier this year, are: Help, Excellence, Accountability, Respect and Teamwork (H.E.A.R.T.). “They form the building blocks of our agency and help us to define right and wrong, as well as help us determine the behaviors and perspectives that are valued within our culture,” Levine said.  “Culture is a living, breathing thing.” To showcase how important each HCPS value is to the overall mission, employees from each division then a delivered a brief presentation exhibiting each. The presentations took different forms: two as songs, one as a rally and another as a teambuilding exercise. Following the presentations, employees who have reached milestone years with HCPS received ...
New program launching to help victims of elderly abuse 
Published on June 16, 2017 by Lee Baughman in In the News
In honor of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Harris County Protective Services is launching a new program that is the first of its kind. As the senior population grows, the frequency of abuse to the elderly is expected to grow with it, according to Harris County Protective Services. In order to help senior victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation in Harris County, HCPS is introducing The Senior Justice Assessment Center. Read more from Channel 2 News Houston.
Harris County launches center devoted to stemming abuse of elderly 
Published on June 16, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in In the News
Twenty years ago, when Harris County social services officials first asked Dr. Carmel Dyer to help check on homebound elderly residents, the geriatrics physician figured she'd be sipping tea with grandmas while checking their blood pressure. Instead, she was horrified to find senior citizens living in squalor, neglected by caregivers, or worse, abused and exploited by them. And little was being done to protect them. "We found that people had died because we were not getting services to them quickly enough, we were not recognizing the problems quickly enough, and we were not prosecuting the perpetrators," said Dyer, a professor of geriatric medicine at UTHealth's McGovern School of Medicine. "And so the idea for the Senior Justice Assessment Center was born." After years of planning, that idea became a reality on Thursday as Harris County officials launched a new collaborative office with the goal of better investigating and prosecuting elder abuse.     Read more from The Houston Chronicle.
Foster Care Center of Excellence Awarded to HCPS Clinic 
Published on June 13, 2017 by Lee Baughman in Press Releases
HOUSTON -- In Harris County, there are over 4,000 children in the custody of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.   The Harris County Protective Services (HCPS) Clinic, a unique clinic dedicated to treating the trauma of children in foster care, is now the first Foster Care Center of Excellence in Harris County. Superior Health will announce the Center of Excellence designation Tuesday at a special ceremony celebrating the collaboration between HCPS, UTHealth, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and Superior Health. To qualify as a Foster Care Center of Excellence, a clinic must meet 47 criteria and the highest standards of care for foster children and their caretakers.  The HCPS Clinic is now the only clinic in Harris County to receive the designation and the second in Texas. “We are proud to receive this designation,” said Joel Levine, HCPS executive director. “It is a reflection of the hard work our staff has done to ensure foster children with visible and invisible wounds can heal in a safe, inviting atmosphere.” As the oldest and first program of ...
Conference celebrates 'Superhero' support staff 
Published on June 13, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in Newsletter
The superheroes of HCPS and other Harris County offices are the administrative support staff (administrative assistants, cooks, cleaning staff, etc.), according to the speakers and theme of the annual Dianne Bynum Administrative Support Staff Conference. "You take care of us; you take care of the office," said HCPS Executive Director Joel Levine. "You are our first contact (with the public) in many cases. How that client, that stakeholder, that public is treated, that tells a story about our agency -- or your agency." Participants packed the conference rooms of the Harris County Department of Education building on June 2. This year's theme was: "Supporting the Superhero in You." The Training Institute of HCPS has organized the conference for the past nine years to both train and celebrate support staff from organizations throughout the county. The conference was named for Dianne Bynum, a former HCPS board president who championed the conference In a unique arrangement, leadership from participating organizations agree to take care of the office while their support staff members enjoy a full day of training -- the same as any other staff member would. “It shows their commitment and appreciation to us, by doing our work for us,” said Valencia A. Linton, who works at the front ...
Jobs Help Foster Youth Overcome Legal Challenges  
Published on June 9, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in Press Releases
Every year approximately 200 foster youth in Harris County age out or emancipate from the foster care system. Children who age out of care are more susceptible to negative outcomes due to a lack of traditional family support and opportunities. The challenges they face such as homelessness, unemployment, poverty and even incarceration can hinder a successful transition to adulthood.  The HAY Center, a program of Harris County Protective Services, is pleased to announce that it has received a $10,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation in support of Overcoming Legal Challenges Faced by Current and Former Foster Care Youth to Gain Stability and Self-Sufficiency.  The support from the Texas Bar Foundation will allow the HAY Center to offer foster youth involved with the courts and judicial system with paid internship opportunities to earn money to pay court related costs, fees, and fines; thus avoiding additional complications.  This also allows youth to gain valuable workforce experience, and help build skills needed for employment. Mary Green, Director of the HAY Center states:  “We are so grateful to the Texas Bar Foundation for their support of the HAY Center and our mission.   Giving youth the opportunity to pay off their court ...
HCPS Clinic becomes first Center of Excellence in Harris County 
Published on May 16, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in Newsletter
The Harris County Protective Services (HCPS) Integrated Healthcare Clinic, a unique clinic dedicated to treating the trauma of children in foster care, is now the first Foster Care Center of Excellence in Harris County.   “You really are willing to go the extra mile to provide quality services to children who are in foster care,” said Robert Wells, Superior Health Services Transformation projects manager.   Wells presented the Center of Excellence designation Tuesday at a special ceremony celebrating the collaboration between HCPS, UTHealth, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and Superior Health.   “We are proud to receive this designation,” said Joel Levine, HCPS executive director. “It is a reflection of the hard work our staff has done to ensure children with visible and invisible wounds can heal in a safe, inviting atmosphere.”   Superior Health gives the Center of Excellence title to clinics that meet a higher standard of care for children in DFPS custody covered through the Superior Health Medicaid plan. The HCPS Clinic is now the only clinic to receive the designation in Harris County and the second in Texas.   “We’ve developed the clinic into a true comprehensive medical home for children with CPS involvement by providing competent and compassionate ...
JP Court Liaisons advise parents to Make It Right 
Published on May 11, 2017 by Christina M. Wright in Newsletter
JP Court Liaisons distributed information about HCPS and its youth programs at the "Make It Right!" event meant to aid Harris County parents in resolving outstanding low-level warrants. "Parents shouldn’t have to worry about being pulled over on the way to drop their children off to school or being concerned when they take their teenager to get their driver’s license," said JP Court Program Specialist Shenetha Toliver. "Those should be memory-building events, free of stress," added Dina Johnson, also a JP Court Program Specialist. Make It Right invited Harris County residents with warrants resulting from nonviolent misdemeanor offenses that were filed in Precincts 1 and 6 to attend the event and clear those pending cases. JP Court Liaisons work with teenagers who have Class C misdemeanors, and their families. They encourage parents to take part in any Make It Right event in order to be more effective parents. Eligible charges for Make It Right include, but are not limited to, failure to appear, public intoxication, disorderly conduct and theft of less than $100. Traffic offenses and felonies are not eligible. "This ...