Month: September 2023

DePelchin pilot will serve families after CPS investigations close

DePelchin Children’s Center, with generous support from two Houston donors, is launching a pilot program focused on preventing repeated instances of child abuse and neglect.


DePelchin’s three-year Together and SAFE pilot will team DePelchin staff with Child Protective Services investigators in Harris County. Investigators are tasked with responding to reports of child abuse and neglect but are often limited in the ongoing support they can provide.


In investigations where the risk for ongoing child abuse and neglect is high, DePelchin’s Together and SAFE team will partner with local investigative units to provide support to families immediately before, and for several months after, an investigation is closed. The services that DePelchin and its community partners will offer include trauma-focused mental health services, family-based therapy, fatherhood engagement, parenting education classes, basic needs, financial literacy, and referrals to additional services as needed. All services provided by DePelchin will be free of charge.


“Families in which child maltreatment has occurred are at the highest risk for repeated harm, which places them at the highest priority for intervention and help,” said DePelchin President and CEO Jenifer Jarriel. “Many families in this situation lack access to the resources they need to improve their mental health, decrease their stress, and learn effective parenting techniques. DePelchin is excited about partnering with CPS investigations to provide these services and reduce the risk of future child maltreatment.” 


The pilot is supported by an $860,000 grant from Project Shine, Inc., which is backed by Houston philanthropists Lara and Bill Perkins, as well as a $750,000 grant from The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston.  


“Our aim is to reduce the risk for ongoing child maltreatment and address family needs so that we positively impact the well-being of our community as a whole,” Jarriel said. “We are grateful to Lara and Bill Perkins, The Brown Foundation, and other supporters for making this work possible. And we cannot say enough about the enthusiasm and support from CPS leadership for engaging in this innovative partnership.”


“We’re excited for this partnership and eager to work with DePelchin to get families the support they need,” said Monica Sanders, the Regional Director overseeing CPS investigations. “Oftentimes we know families need more support than we can offer. Having DePelchin staff embedded within our units will help ensure a seamless transition from an investigation into services and support.”


A full-time DePelchin staff member will work arm-in-arm within selected investigative units to serve as the primary case manager for eligible families. The DePelchin staff member will accompany investigators to closing visits for cases and will immediately initiate services for families agreeing to participate. 


DePelchin has dedicated one case manager and two full time clinicians to addressing the individualized challenges of Together and SAFE families. Clinicians will use tools and strategies consistent with the successful evidence-based practices that DePelchin uses in other programs, while individualizing and supplementing services to best meet each family’s needs.


DePelchin and CPS will pilot and evaluate the Together and SAFE project over three years, with the possibility of expanding the program statewide after the pilot is complete and if it proves to be effective.

Major gift from Project Shine, Inc. will broaden DePelchin’s reach

DePelchin Children’s Center will expand the reach and impact of its services for children and families with a $5.9 million gift from Project Shine, Inc., a nonprofit organization supported by Houston philanthropists Lara and Bill Perkins.

The gift, to be distributed over two years, is one of the most significant in the 131-year history of DePelchin, which works to support and sustain children and the families who care for them.

“In partnership with DePelchin Children’s Center, we seamlessly blend heartfelt compassion with data-driven outcomes,” Lara and Bill Perkins said. “By aligning our charitable efforts with tangible results, we guarantee that our donation catalyzes enduring improvements in the lives of children.”

The gift from Project Shine will impact five focus areas:

  • Decreasing the time families wait to receive DePelchin’s free counseling programs. DePelchin will enhance its intake, assessment, and crisis response teams. DePelchin also will be hiring more clinical staff to increase the number of families who can access services.
  • Establishing an innovative and unique partnership with the Harris County Child Protective Investigation team. DePelchin’s “Together and Safe” team will partner with local investigative units in cases where there is a high risk to children to provide ongoing support to families experiencing child maltreatment immediately before, and for several months after, an investigation is closed. Additionally, the team will be tracking long-term outcomes to measure efficacy and scalability.
  • Investing in outreach and training support that is necessary to increase the number of families who can serve foster youth who are older, have higher clinical needs, are part of large sibling groups, or are living with relatives.
  • Enhancing the quality and scope of DePelchin’s residential programs that serve youth who cannot safely reside in a foster home or with relatives, youth in foster care who are pregnant and/or parenting, older youth in foster care who are preparing to “age out,” and young adults who recently “aged out” of foster care and are learning to live independently.
  • Expanding the work of DePelchin’s Data, Analytics, and Program Evaluation team. Lara and Bill’s generous gift also includes the funds necessary to advance DePelchin’s use of data to drive strategic decision-making, assess the impact of the above focus areas, and explore the utilization of advanced analytics and machine learning to improve service delivery and program evaluation.

“The overarching principle of every program we provide is to create safe, loving homes as well as opportunities for children and families to heal, grow and thrive,” said DePelchin President and CEO Jenifer Jarriel. “This incredible gift will enable us to reach more families with existing services while also creating new ways for us to serve vulnerable populations. We are profoundly grateful for the generosity of Project Shine and Lara and Bill Perkins.”

Through kinship care, relatives and friends provide families for children

Texas children who are removed from their parents are increasingly finding temporary care with members of their extended families, such as grandparents, aunts, or uncles. These relatives often care for children who are difficult to place with traditional foster families, either because of their age or their unique needs.

Care provided by extended family members and close family friends is known as kinship care, and September is National Kinship Care Month. Across Texas, kinship caregivers fill an invaluable role in the lives of children and youth. When children are removed from their homes, Child Protective Services (CPS) seeks first to place them with a relative. In 2021, 45% of Texas children taken into CPS custody were placed with kin. Placement with a relative can allow children to remain connected to their families, cultures, schools, and communities. It also increases the likelihood that they will achieve “permanency” – adoption or a reliable relationship with the same family – before reaching adulthood.

DePelchin supports kinship caregivers in multiple ways. For example, if kinship caregivers are interested in becoming licensed foster families, DePelchin can help them through that process to ensure they receive the benefits that other foster parents receive — from support services from a case manager to the daily reimbursement rate to Medicaid health care for the children.

Kendra Burton, a mother of five who works full time as a nurse practitioner, became a foster parent through kinship care.

“When life presented this opportunity to offer my family more love, we connected with DePelchin,” Ms. Burton said. “They have been a great asset and liaison for our family.

Kinship care is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. To him that much is given, much is expected. This was our plan and I’m thankful and grateful to the organizations that assisted to make this process as seamless as possible.”

Most kinship caregivers do not seek to become licensed foster parents. While other foster parents are required to become licensed through the state, kin caregivers are not. They may not want to go through the lengthy application process, the more intensive monitoring by social workers, the 40 hours of training and many of the other requirements of becoming licensed. In addition, some families providing informal kinship care would appreciate the option to enter into more formalized foster care services and could benefit from the additional financial assistance. However, they do not qualify for those services.

DePelchin supports these caregivers through a program known as Big Hearts Raising Kids. Through this program, DePelchin staff help families find assistance with basic needs, provide guidance and coaching on parenting strategies, and connect kin caregivers with other families and DePelchin support staff.

“Our kinship caregivers often come to us needing support, guidance, and education, and we are here to help,” said Jody Chandler, DePelchin’s Program Manager for Prevention. “We are also here to show them the many strengths that they already have and the power of their decision to try.”

DePelchin is grateful for the families who provide kinship care and for the supporters who allow us to serve them.

Please click here to learn more about our kinship programs.

You may also support our kinship programs and other DePelchin services by making a donation.