***Watch the video at Upbring.org***
Austin, Texas – April 2, 2015 – Today at a landmark event at the Texas State Capitol, Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSS), a 134 year-old nonprofit organization with a rich legacy of serving vulnerable people across Texas, unveiled the bold new identity by which it will now be known – Upbring. The mission of Upbring is to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. The result of a year-long strategic planning process, this brand modernization marks a key milestone in implementing the agency’s new business model.
“The new Upbring identity reflects our faith-driven mission, stretches us in new ways and we hope will inspire more partners to join us,” said Upbring CEO, Dr. Kurt Senske, who has been leading the organization for 18 years. “Our mission is not just about raising children in a safer environment. It’s about raising expectations for what a childhood should be. And there’s a role for everyone to play in shaping the future of Texas’ children.”
Senske was joined at the Capitol event by Justice Eva Guzman, Comptroller Glenn Hegar, State Senator Kirk Watson and Michael, a participant in Upbring’s BeREAL Austin, a supervised independent living program for former foster children.
“As the only statewide agency with a 134-year history of serving children that is focused on social services, education, advocacy and research, Upbring is uniquely positioned to lead the transformational effort to break the cycle of child abuse in our state,” said Texas State Senator Kirk Watson.
Texas is a rapidly growing state with abundant opportunities for its residents. But, at the same time, families must deal with the troubles and tensions that families face even in good times. An estimated 66,000 unduplicated victims of child abuse were confirmed in 2013 and 17,000 children were removed from their homes. Despite all of its good work, Upbring remains haunted by the fact that so many children continue to suffer abuse or neglect. The inability to cope with poverty, drug or alcohol addiction, marital conflict, and employment, among other issues, leads to abuse of children – the most vulnerable members of families and communities.
“As a Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas and a former trial and appellate judge, I know I speak for members of the judiciary in saying how critically important it is to stop the cycle of abuse,” said the Honorable Eva Guzman. “I commend Upbring’s focus on safety, education, health, vocation and life skills. All of these will address the causes of abuse and neglect and hopefully will have a strong impact on reducing recidivism.”
The problem of child abuse is bigger than any one entity, which is why Upbring is forming a powerful strategic alliance with leading organizations and institutions. In order to break the cycle of child abuse and raise the standards in abuse prevention, Upbring plans to deliver an innovative continuum of services, advocacy, research, and community partnerships with five key markers – safety, life skills, education, health and vocation – with which to evaluate progress along the way. This continuum is designed to address the entire spectrum by accounting for the varying types of abuse and stages at which a child enters the system.
Community partners who have committed to advancing Upbring’s cause through participation in its strategic alliance, include:
- Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area, which will support safety for children/youth in the child welfare system in Central Texas.
- Dell Children’s Medical Center, which will serve as the premier partner committed to improving the health of all children in foster care in Central Texas.
- Goodwill Central Texas, which will support vocational training for foster youth transitioning out of foster care.
- The University of Texas School of Social Work, which will support the children of Texas through its quality research and social work practice aimed at assisting children and families.
“As a long-time supporter of this organization, I’m very glad to see Upbring standing up for our most vulnerable children in a proactive way and organizing a strategic alliance to serve the needs of the kids in our foster care system,” said Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar. “Thanks to all of the strategic alliance members who have answered the call. I challenge more of our great Texas organizations and businesses to become a part of this mission.”
Upbring, which serves more than 30,000 people annually, provides the following innovative programs and services for children in the areas of foster care, adoption, education, residential treatment and community services:
Foster in Texas
Upbring Foster in Texas is the largest provider of foster care and adoption services in Texas with 14 offices. The program staff is engaged in addressing the immediate need for more families willing and able to help foster infants, teens, siblings and children with special needs. All foster parents are required to undertake extensive training and background checks before children are placed in their homes.
Upbring Adoption and Upbring International Adoption have served children, families and communities since 1881 and have provided adoption guidance, specifically to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, since 1944. Through the placement of more than 8,000 children into loving, forever homes, Upbring Adoption and Upbring International Adoption are experts in offering long-term support and dependability to their birth parents and adoptive families.
Upbring’s children’s centers include residential treatment centers (RTCs), facilities for unaccompanied minors and Trinity Charter Schools.
Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs) serve severely troubled girls and address treatment for emotional and behavioral disorders stemming from past trauma due to abuse and neglect. Beyond the basic needs of shelter, clothing and food, our RTCs provide grace, a safe place to heal, personalized therapy and on-campus education through Trinity Charter Schools.
Upbring sponsors the charter for Trinity Charter Schools (TCS) to help support Upbring’s RTC and Children’s Shelter programs – no other children’s services agency in Texas has this unique capability. Through TCS, students learn appropriate social skills in a safe, structured, therapeutic environment before they transition back into the public school system or the next phase of their lives. TCS is fully accredited by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
Children’s Shelters and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Transitional Foster Care provide short-term care for unaccompanied minors arriving from Central and South America that will leave a long-term impact in these children’s lives by offering shelter, counseling, vocational training, education and spiritual care.
BeREAL Austin and BeREAL New Orleans help foster youth successfully transition to self-sufficiency and independence by providing supervised independent living (SIL) as they age out of care. Upbring’s BeREAL program, in coordination with the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), was first established in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2009. BeREAL empowers these young adults to become contributing and self-sufficient members of our communities, ultimately helping to break generational cycles of poverty and abuse.
Upbring is a community-driven leader who provides a multitude of vital services to children and families experiencing economic hardship in Lubbock County, including utility assistance, food vouchers, hygiene products, prescription assistance and access to health care for those who qualify. Upbring is laser-focused on providing its customers with unparalleled customer service as it provides reliable, cost-effective services to people throughout the state.
Upbring Disaster Response is prepared to step-in to help families and communities in the aftermath of natural disasters – tornadoes, hurricanes, floods or wildfires – in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Individuals and families are offered financial assistance for basic needs in the short term and case management and spiritual care over the longer term. Disaster Response works continually to assure the program is ready to meet the needs if and when disaster strikes.
Upbring, the new Lutheran Social Services of the South, is a 134 year-old nonprofit organization with a rich legacy of serving vulnerable people across Texas. Its mission is to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. Upbring serves more than 30,000 people annually and provides innovative programs and services for children including foster care, adoption, education, residential treatment and community services. For more information, visit Upbring.org.
Jennifer Schattle, Vice President Marketing & Communications, Upbring
(512) 545-3965 | [email protected]