We’ve served Maryland’s vulnerable children and families since 1920! Join us for a trip down memory lane.
State Mission Board seeks to establish Baptist Children’s Home of MD. Rather than building another 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.
Services for Any in Need
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.
Children’s Aid Club Formed
Maryland Bureau of Child Welfare contracts with the agency to provide caseworkers to certify foster and 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 and Hamilton C. Davis elected trustee president.
Decade of Growth
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.”
Need for Child Placement Falls
With 67 children under care, 1960 expenses exceed $25,000. In 1961, BCAS relinquishes license as child placement agency “due to lack of need.” Agency focuses on providing other family support services. In 1964, agency hires Thelma Culbreth as first executive secretary with formal training in social work.
Sponsorship Program Begins
No longer a child placement agency, BCAS now supplements basic government support by providing in-home services to children and families referred by 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.
First Executive Director
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.
Foster Care and Additional Programs Added
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.
McCormick Family Life Institue is Started
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.
Independent, Interdenominational Agency
BFCS Programs now include: CHOSEN Treatment Foster Care, Safe Families for Children, and Therapeutic Family Services. Agency also partners with churches and businesses to provide school supplies, Christmas gifts, and Thanksgiving meals to families in need. 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, becomes the new Executive 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.
100 Years of Service
We continue the mission forward after celebrating a century of service! BFC has provided critical services to 20,000+ individuals over the years, and we are working to deepen our community partnerships to extend our reach and serve even more in the next 100 years! Tricia Sakles, former Deputy Director and Director of CQI, becomes the Executive Director in 2023. (Cheri Sanzi and Damon Thompson served previously as Executive Director.) A new strategic plan and Mission, Vision, and Values are adopted beginning in 2023.