Building Community Resilience: Greater Dallas Region

Building Community Resilience:
Greater Dallas Region


Download the full Dallas Region Snapshot Report (PDF)


"The common language and focus developed within the Dallas team has resulted in our expanded partnership and joint work with families. Our comprehensive approach to parents and children within the early childhood center setting will fortify families to prevent ACEs from occurring in these young children."

– Sue Schell,
VP Behavioral Health, Children's Health

The Greater Dallas Partners

The Building Community Resilience collaborative serves as a central strategy and organizing platform to address health disparities and community equity with a growing list of community non-profit, city and regional partners in Greater Dallas. Adopted by the Dallas City Council last year, the Resilient Dallas Strategy will use the BCR process to address health inequities and disparities. In addition to working directly with city leaders, the incoming director of the Dallas County Health Department is actively engaged in exploring avenues to collaborate with BCR partners to address the Pair of ACEs in the region.

The Dallas BCR network is a public-private coalition that includes several city government offices and private and non-profit partners including…

  • The Office of Resilience, City of Dallas
  • The Office of Community Care, City of Dallas
  • The Office of Human Rights, City of Dallas
  • The Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs, City of Dallas
  • The Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA @ Cooper Street
  • Big Thought
  • Children’s Health System of Texas
  • ChildCareGroup
  • Dallas County Health and Human Services

The Community Context

As income inequality has become more pronounced throughout the United States, Dallas has experienced exponential growth in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. Since 2000, the number of people in poverty in the City of Dallas has increased by nearly 40 percent while the total population has increased by only 7.6 percent. Coupled with deep and longstanding disparities in health, education, access to job opportunities, and community resources, Dallas' economic resilience is facing significant challenges: pernicious economic and racial segregation, spatial mismatch between the location of low-skill jobs and low-income communities seeking steady employment, a dearth of workforce training and credentialing decreasing percentage of safe, affordable housing units. Many of the city's poorest neighborhoods experience a variety of social and transportation barriers that prevent residents from accessing economic and educational opportunities that could improve their well-being and quality of life. Additionally, due the city’s close proximity to the U.S. southern border, the region is on the front lines of responding to individual and community trauma and unrest due to enhanced border immigration enforcement and immigrant family separation policies.

Dallas has many strengths to draw upon in community resilience building efforts, including a network of nonprofit organizations working to address the Pair of ACEs in impacted communities. At the government level, the City of Dallas has convened a number of task forces around issues that threaten resilience – including poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and teen pregnancy – with charters to develop solutions and improve outcomes alongside community partners. The child poverty rate is far too high, yet it appears to be improving -- decreasing from a high of 37.5 percent in 2014 to 35.6 percent in 2016 (U.S. Census Bureau).

Evolving Partnerships and Goals

Children’s Health initially led the BCR efforts in Dallas, but over the past two years the anchor role has become increasingly shared as the scope of the network’s activities broadened beyond health care to include local government and non-profits serving the communities facing the greatest burden of the Pair of ACEs. From the beginning, the Dallas team’s focus has worked to “go beyond hospital walls to reach children and families in the community.” Resilient Dallas’ vision is to build a resilient, equitable 21st century Dallas by improving outcomes for Dallas’ most vulnerable residents in four key areas: economic inclusion, healthy communities, community infrastructure, and urban mobility.

Sharpening the Lens on Equity with a Focus on Poverty
Equity became the overarching goal for the Dallas BCR effort as outlined in the city’s Resilience Strategy. Using the BCR process, the City of Dallas is now engaging all aspects of the community, including stakeholders traditionally not invited to the table, and shaping the larger policy environment.

Poverty in Greater Dallas: Root Causes Driving the Pair of ACEs
In early 2019 the Dallas team made a key decision to focus its equity work, and adopted the ‘nine drivers of poverty,’ identified by the Mayor’s Task force on Poverty, as essential guideposts for change.

Greater Dallas BCR Community Embedded Initiatives

In its work to address health disparities, community equity, and the Pair of ACEs, the Dallas BCR network has focused on several initiatives.

  • Family University - an initiative of ChildCareGroup that brings together parents of children in its early childhood education programs, to learn about resources and opportunities for parenting support and how to access other programs using ChildCareGroup’s two-generational program model.
  • Integrated Behavioral Health - embeds behavioral health clinicians as full members of their pediatric medical teams who are then able to intervene as soon as ACEs are identified, making behavioral healthcare a part of routine medical care. They function as behavioral health service providers as well as care managers for all behavioral health issues in support of the medical providers in treating the whole child and family
  • School-based Tele-Behavioral Health and CHIP Enrollment – takes advantage of technology to connect with adolescents in need of services through the Integrated Behavioral Health Program and provides health insurance for low-income children in Texas through the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP).

Partnering with the Public Health Sector

As part of the national BCR collaborative’s partnership with the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO), the Dallas BCR effort is strengthening ties with local public health agencies. A key activity of this national partnership is using the Mobilizing Action through Planning and Partnership (MAPP) strategic planning process facilitated by NACCHO. BCR is leveraging the new national partnership and the MAPP process to establish and deepen links between local health departments, community, and the systems that serve community health. The Dallas BCR team’s deepening engagement with Dallas County Health Department will play an important role in furthering this work.

BCR Collaborative Learning and Technical Assistance

One of BCR’s most important contributions to Dallas is that it has given its partners across a range of sectors “the language to understand what’s happening,” says a team member. This common language “resonates in every meeting. It helps partners understand more deeply the impact of [adverse community] environments and how to build buffers in the community.” As a team member describes, “BCR is more than just programs. It’s about true systems change…how to invest long term in community.” With the Resilient Strategy complete, the Dallas team is working to implement the recommendations adopted by the City Council and effectively leverage supportive resources provided by BCR and identify strategies that will optimize the city government’s impact for building resilience. BCR also provides policy support, helping the Dallas team identify and align policy opportunities on the national, state and local levels.

Next Steps

In the coming year, the Dallas team will develop its work around the ‘nine pillars of poverty’ identified by the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty. They will also continue to build relationships, including with new community partners as well as paving the way for new leadership at the Dallas County Health Department to join in this work. The Dallas team will continue to actively engage city leaders in the Office of Community Care, the Office of Human Rights, and the Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs to further embed BCR’s communications tools, data analysis and focus on shared priorities on addressing the nine drivers of poverty. The Dallas team will also continue to leverage BCR’s national connections to boost its local resilience work. Through the national BCR collaborative, a number of exciting partnership opportunities are being discussed. The American Psychological Association’s (APA) Adult and Children Together (ACT) Raising Safe Kids Program is working to enrich the Dallas Family University curriculum with a focus on positive discipline, as requested by parents. The national BCR collaborative’s connections have facilitated Dallas’ participation in the KaBOOM Play Everywhere Challenge to create more spaces for children to play and be physically active in Dallas. The Dallas BCR team is exploring regional partnership opportunities with organizations and city leaders in other TX cities, including Austin, San Antonio and Houston to develop a regional approach to building resilient communities throughout Texas.


Sue Schell
Vice President
Behavioral Health Children’s Health

[email protected]

Cristal Retana
Manager, Government and Community Relations

Children’s Health

[email protected]

Wendy Ellis, DrPH, MPH
Program Director

The Center for Community Resilience

George Washington University

[email protected]