MCH Unveils New Strategic Plan
The ministry of Methodist Children’s Home was born from the vision of just two men. What began as an idea resulted in thousands of lives being changed for the better.
In 1890, Dr. Horace Bishop (pictured left), pastor of Waco’s Fifth Street Methodist Church (now First United Methodist Church of Waco), and Bishop Joseph Key (pictured right), presented their plan to start an orphanage during a meeting of the Northwest Texas Conference. While traveling around the state, Bishop Key had witnessed the large number of homeless and neglected children in need of a safe place to live. He felt compelled to act. After the conference voted to support their vision, they began searching for a place where this home could become a reality. Four years later, the conference selected Waco as the location for the Northwest Texas Conference Orphans Home.
Today, that former orphanage, now called Methodist Children’s Home (MCH), offers hope to more than 5,000 children, youth and families annually through its residential program, transition services and family outreach services. With strategic leadership, MCH has evolved through the years by taking notice of and adjusting to the needs of society, an ability that has allowed the agency to grow into a nationally-recognized leader in the childcare industry.
When Tim Brown was appointed president and CEO of MCH in 2010, he said many people asked him what his vision would be for the agency. These requests were the motivation for the Strategic Plan 2010-2015 which shared the agency’s vision, priorities and goals for the next several years. The plan was comprehensive and ambitious, and at the conclusion of 2015, all goals and action steps were completed or in process. A new Strategic Plan for 2017-2019 was released in early 2017 and builds on the experiences and successes from the last plan.
“The Strategic Plan serves as a roadmap from our past through our present and into the future,” Brown said. “The past and present inform our future plans and lay the groundwork and foundation to build upon.”
Brown, members of executive management and Board of Directors feel it is important to clearly communicate the mission and vision for MCH.
“Our strategic plan provides us with a vision,” Brown said. “When we have an expressed, shared vision, there are opportunities for everyone to contribute.”
Bryan Mize, vice president for quality improvement, guided the strategic planning process. The new plan covers a shorter time period to allow for any adjustments that may be needed as a result of changes in the industry or society, he explained.
“This new strategic plan provides many challenges for MCH as it guides our work for the next three years,” Mize said. “As we implement the plan, we will adapt goals, action steps or target dates if we determine through our research that we need to move in a different direction, face external factors that influence our decisions or identify new priorities. In every decision, we will maintain our commitment to the best and highest use of our resources.”
To begin the discussions for the new plan, executive management evaluated the previous plan to identify priorities and goals to continue into the next stage. They determined three of the priorities were relevant areas of growth to pursue. Those priorities were focused on programs, organizational culture and awareness. The vice presidents utilized employee feedback and participation in order to establish goals and action steps for each priority.
“I am most excited about creating avenues for employees to play a role in the strategic plan,” Mize said. “It will be the work of the whole agency to fulfill the goals.”
Increase the impact MCH has on children, youth and families.
The priority to increase our impact on children, youth and families led to many innovative accomplishments in the previous plan. MCH implemented several trauma-informed and evidence-based practices into our care: Trust-Based Relational Intervention and Family Solutions in 2011, Nurturing Parenting in 2012 and Circle of Security in 2015.
MCH Family Outreach was also expanded and now serves families through 13 offices across Texas and New Mexico. In addition, MCH services to high school graduates grew into an Independent Living program launched in 2012 followed by the purchase of Clay Commons apartments in 2015 for MCH graduates who need additional support as they pursue advanced education or employment. MCH established exciting new avenues for impact in Priority 1 of the new plan.
Priority 1 identifies the following goals of MCH:
1. Develop future program master plan to meet the demand for services.
2. Strengthen agency efforts to support the operation of efficient and effective programs.
“We want to maximize our reach with the prudent use of the resources we have,” said Julie Mitchell, vice president for finance. “If we show good stewardship and use our resources wisely, we can impact more people and continue the agency’s commitment to preserve earning power for future needs.”
Mitchell, along with Moe Dozier, vice president for programs, collaborated on Priority 1. In determining their plan, the pair solicited feedback from three focus groups with employees of all levels to represent residential, support services (transition services and charter school) and MCH Family Outreach.
Dozier said there were 10-15 people in each group who met to discuss how MCH can make the biggest impact on communities. In all three groups, the idea of a community center or afterschool program for the community was at the top, Dozier said. As a result, MCH plans to explore designing a new outreach center in Waco that will also include a pilot program for a daycare center to help us reach families early who may benefit from trauma-informed approaches. The research on the feasibility of this strategic idea is now underway.
“A community center would give us a physical presence out in the community that would be recognizable and form a long-term relationship with a community in need,” Dozier said. “Also, a daycare program would draw people and serve as a gateway to our other services like Family Solutions, Grandparents As Parents Program (GAPP), foster care, or our residential program.”
MCH also reveals in the first goal strategies to research better ways to serve young adults ages 18-22 who have not graduated from high school, complete the Waco campus capital improvement project and evaluate Boys Ranch resources for new educational opportunities. In addition, MCH will strive to incorporate new evidence-based practices in GAPP, and transition the focus of the residential program from child welfare to education.
“We began this transition with our partnership with the University of Texas-University Charter School to prepare our kids for success,” Dozier said. “We’ve been adding enrichment opportunities every year and this year will hit 300 graduates. We will continue to stress the importance of education to the children in our care.”
Strengthen the organizational culture and sense of community to support employee development, retention and morale.
The second priority focuses on enhancing internal operations and opportunities. In the previous plan, MCH had several successes in this area including the expansion of the training department and processes, the establishment of an employee website in 2012 and newsletter in 2015 to increase agency communication, and redesign of the employee survey. The position of vice president for quality improvement was also added in 2014.
To address organizational matters in the new plan, executive management analyzed information provided by staff from the previous planning process, employee surveys, exit interviews, leadership training, and other methods.
Priority 2 established three goals:
1. Provide a workplace that promotes connection, communication and collaboration.
2. Develop a professional learning community model.
3. Enhance cultural competency throughout the organization.
While employee participation has been used throughout the planning process, MCH will continue to find avenues to encourage employees to get involved in decision-making.
“You get valuable input from employees,” said Judy Broadway, vice president for human resources, who worked on Priority 2 with Mize. “It is important to us to keep connecting. We want to have happy people here and a connection at all levels. We all have our ideas and they are valued. We are all important.”
Priority 2 also highlights the goal to provide more opportunities for agency-wide trainings. Last year, MCH hosted training for administrative professionals, bringing together staff from all MCH Family Outreach office locations, Waco campus and Boys Ranch for the first time. Mize said with a large agency of 350 employees in multiple locations, it is a challenge to find ways to get everyone better equipped and connected, but it is an important goal in the new plan.
“Every employee can benefit from meeting new or other staff,” Mize said. “Our ministry is based on relationships and we need to provide opportunities for that growth.”
Some other areas addressed in the second priority are the desire to create a leadership training program, evaluate employee benefits, and determine the need for a supervisor handbook. MCH also strives to promote cultural awareness and maintain a diverse employee population in Priority 2.
“With the talent we have here at MCH, the sky is the limit for us,” Broadway said. “This is a good strategic plan. It is going to be exciting to see those things come to fruition.”
Increase visibility, prominence and awareness of MCH in all current and targeted future locations.
In the third priority, MCH carries over the desire to increase agency awareness. In the previous plan, MCH had several accomplishments such as boosting marketing efforts including the increase of our social media presence, creating a marketing plan and new logo in 2014, and growing opportunities for involvement through volunteering and special events.
Priority 3 includes three goals:
1. Increase awareness of MCH as a leader in faith-based child and family services and as an exemplary nonprofit organization.
2. Support Program staff and designated departments in their promotional efforts.
3. Increase giving from a more diverse donor demographic.
In determining the goals and action steps, executive management members Mitchell and Trey Oakley, vice president for development, looked at information provided through Continuous Quality Improvement meetings, discussions with childcare administrators, and feedback from other targeted groups. They also worked with the Development Committee and Dini Spheris, strategic partners who currently work with MCH on its “Building Hope” capital campaign.
“We are beginning to see changes in our audience,” Oakley said. “Not only do we want to share our story but we also want to reach those with whom we hope to collaborate. In our previous plan, we focused on getting our MCH message beyond our walls. This plan is how we now take our message to more detailed, personal levels and to specific groups.”
The goals include strategies to create promotional processes in order to build awareness as well as to find ways to establish new connections through hosting community events to generate more support. Also, MCH plans to further develop campaigns to target demographics of younger donors, planned giving benefactors, United Methodist congregations and other denominations.
“We want to continue to build overall awareness and improve upon it, but also segment out our message to where it is most effective,” Oakley said. “This is done to connect with our next generation of supporters and to cultivate our current supporters so they know how they bless those we serve.”
MCH has already put aspects of the new plan into motion and will periodically give updates on progress through publications and other mediums.
“We are excited about the potential for growth of MCH during the next three years,” Mize said. “We believe the commitment and effort it will take from all employees to achieve the strategic plan goals will significantly increase the impact of this agency throughout Texas and New Mexico.”
To view the 2017-19 Strategic Plan, click below: