We’ve been giving a new start to at-risk kids and families since 1920! Join us for a trip down memory lane.
State Mission Board seeks to establish Baptist Children’s Home of MD. Opposed to orphanage, spice entrepreneur Willoughby McCormick favors in-home placement and becomes trustee president. Women’s Advisory Board formed. Agency renamed Baptist Children’s Aid Society of MD in 1924. Despite financial struggles, 225 individuals helped in first 10 years. McCormick family gives large legacy gift.
With few Baptist church referrals, services expanded to non-Baptist children. McCormick dies in 1932, succeeded by M. A. Long. Widow Helen Cobb McCormick becomes first female trustee in 1934 and later elected board President.
MD Bureau of Child Welfare requires conformity to new state standards. BCAS contracts with Family & Children’s Society of MD to provide caseworker to certify foster/adoptive parents. Over 1,000 responses to Baptist Children’s Aid Club soliciting $1 per year membership. Board President Helen Cobb McCormick dies in 1946, leaves bequest improving agency finances, and Hamilton C. Davis elected trustee president.
Of the 66 children under care, 4 are in schools, 4 in foster homes, 48 with their mothers, and 10 with other relatives. 1950 agency expenses exceed $17,000. In 1953, Rowland McD. Ness elected board President; Women’s Advisory Board expands to 50 members. 1957 MD Dept. of Public Welfare evaluation: ”BCAS renders helpful service to Maryland children through counseling, referral and provision for special needs.”
With 67 children under care, 1960 expenses exceed $25,000. In 1961, BCAS relinquishes license as child placement agency “due to lack of need.” In 1964, agency hires Thelma Culbreth as first executive secretary with formal training in social work.
No longer a child placement agency, BCAS now supplements basic government support by providing in-home services to children and families referred by Baptist pastors. Sponsorship program begins, linking children in need with sponsors who send regular BCAS contributions to purchase gifts, clothing, and necessities. 130 children provided Christmas gifts, 37 sent to summer camp. In 1977, Orville Tarner elected board President.
Working with 55 Sponsorship children, BCAS renews 60-year commitment to keeping kids in families. Robert L. Moore elected president in 1980; Rev. Robert Gerstmyer hired as agency’s first executive director in 1981. Agency name changed to Baptist Family & Children’s Aid of MD (BFCA). In 1987, agency’s work folded into state convention structure as Family-Ministers Support department. Arla Ely elected board President in 1988.
BFCA reverts back to agency status, relocates, is re-licensed as child placement agency and begins treatment foster care services under MD Dept. of Human resources. Agency renamed Baptist Family & Children’s Services of MD. By 1993, with 32 CHOSEN placements, expenses are $1.3 million. New programs include: in-home services, emergency respite and Families Together. In 1997, Sandy Wehunt elected board President.
BFCS programs now include: McCormick Family Life Institute, Baptist Family Counseling, CareNow Family Preservation Program, and CHOSEN. New agency and program logos adopted. Mother’s Day Offering now promoted by BCM/D for BFCS, with 71 churches participating. Board of Church Representatives (formerly Women’s Advisory Board) disbands following May 2002 meeting.
BFCS Programs now include: CHOSEN TFC, Safe Families for Children, and Good Samaritan Network. With 42 children placed in CHOSEN homes, 2010 expenses exceed $2.6 million. Bob Gerstmyer retires in February 2012 after 30 years as Executive Director. Debbie Marini, former CHOSEN Clinical Director, hired as interim director. In 2014 the board of trustee’s recommendation is approved by the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware to become an independent agency and the name changed to Building Families for Children. Debbie becomes the Executive Director.