Staff Spotlight: Beth Pitts
Meet: Beth Pitts
Job: Manager, Navy EFM Respite Care Program
District: South Puget Sound
EFM stands for “exceptional family members,” and Beth has been a faithful ally for these special-needs children and their families since joining the agency’s Bremerton staff in 2014.
Coordinating respite service for military households combines two of her passions: Caring for children who face big challenges, and caring for the community where her family planted deep roots four generations ago.
“I will always advocate for Kitsap,” Beth said, “and I will always advocate for kids who are struggling the hardest.” She spoke from her desk at LCSNW’s downtown Bremerton office, a few blocks from the gate of the Naval Shipyard where both her grandfathers worked and a few miles from where she grew up in a 13-kid house shared by four families.
Beth manages a contract that currently has 125 providers meeting the respite needs of 128 Navy families. The military covers up to 40 hours a month of child care for parents of kids with conditions ranging from autism to Down Syndrome, from speech delays to terminal illnesses.
Providers range from therapists to special-education teachers to surrogate grandmas who simply sit and listen to older children. Because Navy life is so transient, families often lack local support systems of their own.
The number of providers and families fluctuates and fell sharply during the worst months of COVID-19 isolation. Now the outlook is improving; October saw eight new families and three new providers. Beth’s job is to recruit and train, schedule and track hours, do quarterly compliance monitoring of providers, and ensure they have eight hours of continuing education each year.
It’s a labor of love for the former boarding school teacher who later spent 26 years with the Armed Forces YMCA, running before- and after-school programs in seven local centers. She also served seven years in uniform with the Army National Guard and Reserves, plus a stint as a civilian Americorps director. And she’s a certified First Aid trainer in her spare time.
Her message to young people: Open the door and dream.
“All the passions in your life and the things you do well always come together in a piece,” she said.
Fun fact #1: She learned how to drive an M60 tank in the Army.
Fun fact #2: She holds master’s and doctoral degrees in theology. “I’m a college dropout with a PhD.”