Advocating for safe children, stable families, and supportive communities
37 West Broad Street, Suite 1100
Columbus, OH 43215 — 614-224-5802

2017 PCSAO Awards

Crystal Ward Allen Child Advocate of the Year

Attorney General Mike DeWine

Mike DeWine

Attorney General Mike DeWine and his staff are irrepressible leaders for improving children’s outcomes. When he served as U.S. Senator, Attorney General DeWine led the efforts to improve safety and permanency for children through the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act.

In his role as Attorney General for Ohio, he funded the creation of Ohio Reach that is housed at PCSAO, which strives to provide postsecondary supports to former foster youth on Ohio’s higher education campuses. These supports include ensuring former foster youth have access to mentors who can support and engage students in campus life, to liaisons who can connect them with important services, and to a safety net that provides essential supports when times are tough.

Attorney General DeWine has also been a champion in addressing Ohio’s opioid epidemic. He was the first statewide elected official to step up to make a meaningful contribution to Ohio’s children services system by funding Ohio START (Sobriety, Treatment and Reducing Trauma). A $5 million, two-and-a-half-year pilot program, Ohio START is an intervention that will provide specialized victim services, such as intensive trauma counseling, to children who have suffered victimization due to parental drug use. The program will pair family peer mentors with parents who are recovering from addiction. The goal is to keep children safely at home or reunify them sooner with their parents. Ohio START is being supported through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in 16 counties.

Mike DeWine is Ohio’s 50th Attorney General and serves as Ohio’s chief law officer. Since taking office, Attorney General DeWine has devoted resources and staff to fighting prescription drug abuse and heroin, increased the number of criminal prosecutions in consumer fraud cases, and focused on key issues affecting children and teens, including sex trafficking, child abuse and missing children. Attorney General DeWine grew up in Yellow Springs and married his high school sweetheart, Frances, while both were students at Miami University. The DeWines have resided in Cedarville Township since Mike graduated from law school; they have eight children and 22 grandchildren.

This award, named in honor of PCSAO’s former executive director, is given each year to an individual or organization that stands up for the best interests of children and their families. Attorney General DeWine exemplifies such a champion, and PCSAO is pleased to present him with the 2017 Crystal Ward Allen Child Advocate of the Year award.

Gayle Channing Tenenbaum Legislators of the Year

Named for PCSAO’s longtime champion and advocate, Gayle Channing Tenenbaum, these awards recognize outstanding leadership – and action – by legislators on issues impacting children and families served by the children services system.

The Honorable Ryan Smith, Ohio House of Representatives, District 93

Smith

Rep. Smith is currently serving his third term in the House of Representatives, representing the 93rd district, which includes Jackson and Gallia counties, as well as portions of Lawrence and Vinton counties. Rep. Smith chairs the House Finance Committee – a key position, especially this year as the biennial budget was debated, shaped and enacted during the first six months of 2017.

When an organization sets out to pursue an ambitious agenda, like PCSAO did this year with our state budget ask, one of the first things you do is find a champion — that legislator who shares your vision and agrees to carry and champion your issue. Too many times, you have to go out and find a champion, educate them, bring them along, maybe even win them over.

But that was not the case with Rep. Smith. Instead, this champion found us. Even before Governor Kasich introduced his version of the budget, Rep. Smith signaled that the House would pursue key priorities, including a robust response to the opioid epidemic that is crippling families and communities across this state, and that response would include an investment in children services. Because this champion understands that children are far too often the silent victims of this epidemic.

Rep. Smith’s commitment was absolutely critical to securing an additional $60 million investment in children services – both in core support for county PCSAs and in establishing a new kinship child care program. His commitment didn’t waver – even when Ohio’s fiscal and revenue projections kept being revised downward.

We are grateful for Rep. Smith’s ability to lead and to navigate through those challenging circumstances as Finance Committee chair and, most importantly, for never losing sight of what Ohio’s abused and neglected children need. PCSAO is honored to present Rep. Ryan Smith with the 2017 Gayle Channing Tenenbaum Legislator of the Year award.

The Honorable Jay Hottinger, Ohio Senate, District 31

Hottinger

Senator Hottinger represents the 31st district, which includes all of Licking, Perry, Coshocton, and Tuscarawas counties, as well as part of Holmes County. He has a long record of public service, having previously served in the House of Representatives and as a member of the Newark City Council.

It is for this seasoned leadership that we are honoring Senator Hottinger today. As the opioid epidemic strengthened its grip on our state, Senator Hottinger reached out to community leaders from all parts of his district. Most significantly, about a year ago, he visited Coshocton County Job and Family Services to ride along with a children services caseworker. What he saw that day deeply impacted him and deepened his commitment to making sure that our state is focusing on the often-forgotten part of the opioid epidemic: the children.

We commend Senator Hottinger for his willingness to see with his own eyes and hear with his own ears the overwhelming challenges that children in families struggling with addiction face. And for being our children services champion in the Senate. Crafting the state budget is a complex process with many moving parts. The Governor starts the process by introducing his executive budget, then the House goes to work on it and adopts its version of the budget, which then goes to the Senate. Along the way, lots of policy and spending proposals within the budget change and evolve. And that’s what happened to children services funding during the Senate process. While the specific details make for a fascinating story, the important thing to know is that Senator Hottinger was right there, literally on the spot, and stepped in to fix a technical issue with funding for PCSAs. His determination and quick action were critical to securing the new investment for children services.

The senator and his staff were always there for us. He drafted and re-drafted amendments, carried those amendments forward, and kept the impact of the opioid epidemic on children front and center. PCSAO is honored to present Senator Jay Hottinger with the 2017 Gayle Channing Tenenbaum Legislator of the Year award.

Families of the Year

Cynthia Bingham & Family, Trumbull County – Kinship

Bingham

Family search and engagement is a critical practice in the children services system, focusing on identifying kin to take temporary or permanent custody of kids so that they do not have to go into foster care. In the case of Cynthia Bingham, she is now the caregiver of a grandchild she did not even know she had because Trumbull County Children Services was able to establish a family connection in the nick of time.

Michael came into custody in 2014 at the age of two when he was admitted to the hospital for significant injuries. When hopes faded for reunification with Michael’s mother, the agency learned that while paternity had never been established, the suspected biological father was deceased. A call to the coroner’s office revealed that the putative father’s DNA was scheduled to be discarded. With little time to lose, a motion was filed in court to obtain paternity testing, the identity of Michael’s father was confirmed, and the agency reached out to family members in Butler County listed in his obituary, including Michael’s grandmother, Cynthia.

Overcome with emotion upon learning of Michael’s existence, Cynthia huddled with her family and declared that she would care for her grandson. “I saw Michael, and I committed myself,” she said. Michael’s aunt, Courtney Bingham, assists her mother in caring for Michael, and between the two of them, Michael has flourished in a loving home. He has overcome medical complications, and now close kin are raising Michael, thanks to the tenacious efforts of an agency supervisor practicing family search and engagement.

PCSAO is pleased to present Cynthia Bingham and her family with a 2017 Family of the Year award.

Jim and Marlene Swingle, Fairfield County – Foster/Adoptive

Swingle

Since becoming licensed in 1988 by Fairfield County Job and Family Services, the Swingles have fostered nearly 40 children. While working with birth families toward reunification is a relatively recent concept, the Swingles have long practiced the principle – and perhaps even have taken it to a whole new level.

A sibling group of four was placed with Jim and Marlene for two years before reunifying with their mother. The Swingles worked closely with her – so closely that after completing an in-patient recovery program, the birth mother moved into a home on the Swingle property. Living nearby and pregnant with her fifth child, mom was able to share meals with the Swingle family, have frequent interactions with her children, and benefit from Jim and Marlene’s gentle mentoring. The agency closely monitored the unusual situation, concluding that the emotional and physical safety fostered by such a close living relationship was uniquely beneficial to all. The Swingles communicated to the birth mother just how much she was valued, respected, and cared for. Post-reunification, mom and her family live on their own, but still close enough to consider the Swingles unofficial grandparents.

While this describes the more recent adventures of the Swingle family, it is representative of their lifetime of commitment to children in care. In addition to two biological children, the Swingles have adopted 11 children and are guardians of a 29-year-old former foster daughter with significant developmental disabilities. As most of the children were adopted during their pre-teen or teenage years, Jim and Marlene became highly skilled at interacting with educators, law enforcement, juvenile court, and mental health professionals as they addressed the children’s trauma. When one of their sons disappeared as a young teen, they searched for him unceasingly for two full years; he has now returned to their home and is living in physical and emotional safety. That is what all of their children – now adults – have come to count on.

PCSAO is pleased to present Jim and Marlene Swingle with a 2017 Family of the Year award.

Gregory & Laura Frank, Stark County – Foster/Adoptive

Frank

Gregory and Laura Frank are passionate about keeping sibling groups together, addressing trauma, and maintaining connections with birth families. Since becoming licensed in 2012 by Stark County Job and Family Services, they have fostered 12 children, 10 of them part of sibling groups. They not only assist children in reunifying, but they also mentor the children’s parents.

Jayden has been fostered by the Franks for almost two years. His mother’s cognitive limitations interfered with her ability to adequately and safely parent Jayden, though she loves her son dearly. Jayden’s inability to speak was initially attributed to his home environment, but then the Franks noticed that Jayden also had difficulty eating certain foods and swallowing properly. Despite being told by medical professionals that nothing was wrong, Gregory and Laura persisted, advocating for additional tests that eventually identified a malformation in his throat. Minor surgery followed by therapy led to improvements. Further advocacy was needed in preschool, leading to speech and occupational therapy. The Franks allowed liberal visitation in their own home, taught mom parenting skills, and even arranged transportation for Jayden’s disabled grandmother. They text and send photographs to Jayden’s mother regularly, invite her to medical appointments, and take her shopping. In mom’s eyes, Laura has become a mother figure not just to Jayden but to herself.

Gregory and Laura are advocates for reunification, and the agency relies on them for objective input. PCSAO is pleased to present Gregory and Laura Frank with a 2017 Family of the Year award.

Alicia Gooden & Glen Fury, Stark County – Birth

Gooden-Fury

Too often, former foster youth become involved with the child protection system themselves when they become parents. Alicia Gooden and Glen Fury both emancipated from foster care, traumatized in part by being separated from their siblings. Now with children of their own – Alicia has five and Glen is the father of two of them, though all consider him their dad – they struggled with mental health, lack of income and housing, and addiction. Their own experience in foster care led Alicia and Glen to advocate that all five children be placed together in foster care rather than separated.

Once they started services, Alicia and Glen complied with every aspect of their case plan. They never canceled a visit with their children, completed classes, maintained sobriety, and gained stable employment and housing. Recognizing just how painful it was saying goodbye to their children after each visit helped motivate them to move through a lengthy set of expectations. Now successfully reunified with their children, Alicia and Glen are continuing to put what they learned into practice; they feel more successful as parents and more present with their children. They have embraced change so that their children did not have to grow up in foster care.

Alicia and Glen stand here as reminders of the traumatic and lingering effects of growing up in foster care, as well as the importance of reunification. PCSAO is pleased to present Alicia Gooden and Glen Fury and their children with a 2017 Family of the Year award.

Journalists of the Year

Bryan Mealer, The Guardian (United Kingdom)

Before the opioid epidemic swept Ohio, it was unusual for Clinton County’s Child Protection Unit to garner national media attention, much less international. In April, Bryan Mealer, a Texas-based reporter for The Guardian, a London daily newspaper, changed that.

He visited the agency in southwest Ohio and, after overcoming the reluctance of agency leaders, spoke at length with caseworkers, supervisors, and foster parents about their experiences working on the front lines of the epidemic. He listened, and listened some more, and demonstrated such understanding and sympathy for the children that agency staff – initially skeptical – were encouraged to relate heartbreaking stories they had never before shared. He spent the better part of a week talking to caseworkers, law enforcement and medical professionals. He likened what he learned to his work in war-torn Congo. His interest in conveying the story was authentic and heartfelt, and his top concern was protecting the confidentiality of children and staff.

There has been much compelling coverage of opioids over the last year, but Bryan’s article, titled “It’s just horrific: Caseworkers break their silence to reveal toll of addiction on children,” offered a glimpse into the epidemic that deeply resonated with readers. It painted a story not just of the children and families traumatized by addiction, but of first responders heroically managing the fallout every day. And it was key to helping legislators understand the need for investing in Ohio’s struggling child protection system.

Bryan is a New York Times bestselling author, with titles including All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo, Muck City, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and the forthcoming book Kings of Big Springs. He is a former Associated Press staff correspondent, and his work has appeared in several magazines, including Harper’s and Esquire. His interest in Clinton County started in 2008 after DHL discontinued operations and nearly 10,000 jobs dried up there.

We are pleased to present Bryan Mealer with a 2017 PCSAO Journalist of the Year award.

Rita Price, The Columbus Dispatch

Price

If Rita Price were retiring, PCSAO would likely give her a Lifetime Achievement award for journalism. Child welfare has been Rita’s beat for many years, and her knowledge of our system runs deep. Her coverage of our issues has always been fair, thoughtful, and painstaking. She doesn’t shy away from covering the many challenges we encounter in child protection and foster care, but she is adept at putting issues into context and isn’t afraid to take on the complexity and nuance of the field.

PCSAO staff credit Rita with originating coverage of the opioid epidemic’s impact on children services in Ohio. She may not have been the first to think, “What effect are these drugs having on children?” but her September 2016 article – just one year ago – led local, state, national and international news outlets to begin finally paying attention to the invisible victims of the epidemic. Truly, her work kicked off an avalanche of media interest. Since that article, PCSAO has archived on our website more than 140 stories about opioids and child protection from media across the state; a dozen newspaper columns and opinion pieces; six editorial board endorsements for investing in our system; and two dozen stories from national and international news outlets ranging from CNN, CBS and NBC to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and even Cosmopolitan. Rita’s devotion to this issue did not end with that initial article; she continues to follow the story, giving our issues the keen eye, compassion and depth of experience we have come to expect. In fact, while she was covering the impact of opioids on our system, Rita was also featuring stories about the needs of multi-system youth and how many of their parents are forced to relinquish custody so that appropriate treatment can be accessed for their children.

In addition to covering children services, Rita writes about other social services, nonprofits and family issues. She enjoys reading, cooking and (according to her Twitter feed) “hanging with her swell boys.” If anything, this award is long overdue, but we are grateful knowing that we can count on Rita in the years to come for more outstanding coverage of child protection issues. PCSAO is pleased to present Rita Price of The Columbus Dispatch with a 2017 Journalist of the Year award.

Rising Up and Moving On

Romesha, 18, Franklin County

Romesha has faced her challenges with an abundance of character and strength. She has endured circumstances that tested her as an individual without giving up. She and her siblings entered foster care when she was only a year old but were adopted by a loving mother. But when Romesha was 12, her adoptive mother passed away, leaving her and the other children without a family again.

While dealing with the grief caused by the loss of her mother, Romesha also faced separation from her siblings as they were sent to different foster homes. At the age of 15, Romesha became pregnant. The birth of her son sparked a chain of positive changes in her life, leading her to become a better version of herself.

Now 18 and still in foster care with her son, Romesha enrolled in ECOT and recovered each of her lost credits. She graduated a semester earlier than her peers, and she is now the first among nine siblings to leave high school with a diploma. Romesha has displayed many signs of becoming a more mature young woman, allowing both her and her son to grow. Each day she makes good choices for herself and her son, ensuring that they will always be together and that he has good influences in his life. She has held down two jobs even when that meant late nights caring for her son and early mornings to catch a bus that would take them to day care across town. Romesha has also saved up and is ready to move into her first apartment. Discovering through her son a passion to help children, Romesha has decided to become a neonatal nurse. Currently enrolled in Columbus State Community College, she began her training in the nursing program this summer.

Romesha is an example of resilience and success in spite of the difficulties she has faced. Motivated and strong, she has a bright future ahead of her with many promising opportunities. PCSAO is pleased to present Romesha Walker with a 2017 Rising Up and Moving On award.

Brianna, 17, Hocking County

Brianna

Resilient. Courageous. Strong. These are just three words used to describe Brianna and the impact she has made on the lives of those around her.

Brianna first entered child protective services custody when she was six years old, after experiencing severe abuse that required hospitalization. This was only the beginning of her journey, as she was forced to endure abuse and neglect in different placements after that. When kinship care was disrupted, she was placed in foster care. Understandably distrustful that anyone would protect her, she ran away several times. Even after her daughter was born, she ran. Yet no matter where she was or what challenge she faced, she was always looking out for the safety of those around her. Brianna’s life has been filled with struggles. It is easy to imagine someone in that position giving up. But that’s the last thing Brianna has done.

Brianna has worked hard to heal and to work through the anger she felt about her past. She has earned the right to live with her baby, and works as a server to provide extra income to support her daughter. At 17, Brianna has earned her GED, has a learner’s permit (and is working on getting a license), and attends college, taking classes to pursue a nursing degree.

This is the story that best illustrates this incredible young woman’s dedication to protecting those around her. When faced with abuse targeted at both herself and her little sister, Brianna risked her life to secretly videotape the abuse. She shared it with her caseworker and, later, with law enforcement. She used her voice to save her sister’s life and her own. In 2016, Brianna volunteered to speak to a college class about her experiences and how she has overcome the many obstacles in her path. The courage and determination she showed, both in how she survived and in sharing her story, touched the class. Brianna is a testament to the power and strength of resilience. PCSAO is pleased to present Brianna with a 2017 Rising Up and Moving On award.

Stephen, 18, Stark County

Stephen is known for his kind heart and positive attitude. His smile lights up the room, and he is always willing to lend a helping hand. He loves sports, especially football, and played for the Perry Panthers while attending Perry High School. Never one to sit around, he spent his summers working at the school and doing yard work for his foster father’s landscaping business. In all respects, he is similar to other young adults. He enjoys hanging out with friends, listening to music, and playing video games. It’s hard to imagine that Stephen has spent his life in and out of foster care. Despite many hardships, he has worked hard to achieve his own goals and overcome adversity in his life.

He has attended multiple schools throughout his placements, often separated from his biological siblings. He has experienced multiple disruptions, and in 2015, he was a passenger in a terrible car accident that separated him from the family he had lived with for five years.

This past year, Stephen graduated from high school, where he also earned a certificate in the welding program. He was accepted for an apprenticeship welder position, but continued to work at Subway until the day before he started his apprenticeship. He plans to attend Stark State College in the fall to become an EMT or firefighter. On June 12, Stephen was officially adopted by his forever family. His mom shared that of her 20-plus years as a foster parent, Stephen was the first to come home and ask for help with schoolwork. Stephen even offered to start helping with household bills. The strength, humility, and selflessness he has shown toward all those who have supported him, and the positive impact he has left behind, defines his character. He is an exceptional young man and is poised to do great things in life. PCSAO is pleased to present Stephen with a 2017 Rising Up and Moving On award.

Lucas, 17, Perry County

To say that Lucas has succeeded beyond his challenging upbringing would be an understatement. This high school senior has defied the odds and excelled. Lucas participates in Business Professionals of America, a club designed to prepare youth for the business world. He advanced from the regional competition to the state competition, placing top 20 in Ohio.

While at school, he has shown himself to be a leader, becoming vice president of the Math Club, volunteering in the school library (where he assists the librarian with organizing, cleaning and ordering books), and participating in Spanish Club. A member of the Gay/Straight Alliance, he is a certified mentor to LGBTQ youth at his school. His work helps foster an environment where everyone is supported and understood. In addition to his involvement at school, he volunteers at an after-school program called Kids on Campus. In this role, he works directly with underprivileged youth providing assistance with homework and tutoring, as well as cleaning, cooking, and helping plan parties and activities for the kids.

His impressive resume and dedication to helping other children in need cannot really show how much Lucas has grown and matured. As one children services worker wrote, “Lucas has completely transformed.” A headstrong and stubborn youth, he turned these traits into useful characteristics that will help him achieve future success. Lucas plans to attend college studying pre-med, with hopes of advancing to medical school. His ultimate goal is to work with children in the NICU. Lucas will continue to inspire and help many people along the way.

PCSAO is pleased to present Lucas with a 2017 Rising Up and Moving On award.

John, 19, Montgomery County

John

Nothing has ever been easy for John. Entering foster care at just two years old, he struggled from the beginning with significant behavioral and academic challenges. Because of this, John has had many foster and residential placements. His case has impacted the lives of many caseworkers, both in Ohio and beyond. During his 17 years in foster care, he has lived as far away as Indianapolis and Detroit when care was not available for him in state. The improvements he has made, even within the past year, have been incredible.

John has always been a happy kid, with a strong connection to and loyalty toward his family and friends. His upbeat nature and warm personality have allowed him to look out for others, as he works hard to achieve his goals. When he entered high school, John was unable to read or write, and struggled with his behavior. Now, he is able to add, subtract, make a purchase, and tell time. During his senior year of high school, he took on more leadership, acting as a role model and peer mentor for his classroom.

John used to hate school, but now his love of learning is contagious. He has maintained summer employment at Goodwill Industries and the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation. As one specialist, who nominated John, said, “John is stronger because he had to be. He is smarter because of his mistakes, happier because of the sadness he has known, and now wiser because of what he has learned.” John’s future is bright: He refuses to settle, and his hard work and kind-hearted personality will help him continue to achieve his dreams. PCSAO is pleased to present John with a 2017 Rising Up and Moving On award.

Outstanding Agency Staff

Tim Harless, Richland County Children Services, Child Protection Supervisor of the Year

Harless

Our Supervisor of the Year is almost too well known across the state to require introduction. His “Marlboro Man” appearance belies an unparalleled sensitivity and compassion. With nearly three decades dedicated to our profession, he has earned praise at the local, state and national level.

Though he has worked just about every position in the child welfare field, our awardee is known far and wide as an advocate for kinship caregivers. He is the lead on kinship placements at his agency. He is president of the Ohio Grandparent/Kinship Coalition. He has testified in favor of supportive kinship legislation before the Ohio General Assembly and has advocated before federal lawmakers in Washington. He is PCSAO’s go-to resource on kinship policy and caregiver needs. Closer to home, the kinship navigator he supervises told us that his leadership is pivotal, directly benefiting children and families every day. His director says of him, “Instead of wishing that things were different, he actively works toward change. The passion that he brings to this work every day cannot be contained within his own agency and his own county.”

This supervisor is also an advocate for birth families as parent partners, a leader in trauma therapy for children in care, and a tireless representative of his agency in the community where he grew up. He holds his staff to high standards, inspiring them even during tough times. Their respect for his leadership, down-to-earth style, and wise counsel was abundantly clear in the many letters of support for his nomination. For these reasons and many more, PCSAO is pleased to present Tim Harless of Richland County Children Services with the 2017 Child Protection Supervisor of the Year award.

Jajuana McLean, Franklin County Children Services, Child Protection Caseworker of the Year

McLean

At 18 pages, the nomination form, letters of support and list of awards for this year’s Caseworker of the Year might have broken a record. Our awardee is an adoption assessor with more than 17 years in the field and 140 finalized adoptions.

She does not shy away from older or hard-to-place kids; in fact, they might just be her specialty. She has crossed state lines to find adoptive families, expertly navigated a foster-to-adopt placement while concurrently working toward reunification, and, in the case of a Somali grandmother and grandson, approved kin custody placement with seemingly effortless cultural competency.

Her philosophy of always “taking care of the babies” has led this caseworker to stress safety, honesty, and relationships – with kids, prospective families and coworkers alike. She accompanies her peers on difficult visits and checks up on how they are doing afterwards. She walks the difficult path of adoption with each family, setting clear expectations and helping them understand both the challenges and the rewards. She walks that path with children as well. One young lady on her caseload initially wanted nothing to do with this caseworker, but when she saw that this caseworker would provide consistency, love, and dedication to finding her a permanent home, she transformed. She began to show trust, respect and eventually love. The bond became so strong that, upon her adoption, this youth took the caseworker’s own name as part of her new legal name.

Testaments from adoptive families and coworkers demonstrate that this caseworker regularly exceeds expectations. She recently received the Nancy Fitzgivens Award for her dedication to the safety of children, and today PCSAO is pleased to present Jajuana McLean of Franklin County Children Services with the 2017 Child Protection Caseworker of the Year award.

Laurie Fogg, Erie County Job and Family Services, Child Protection Support Staff of the Year

Fogg

In five short years, this support staff has made an indelible impression on children, families, and her coworkers.

She has doubled the number of families receiving Kinship Permanency Incentive support by providing pamphlets and posters to community organizations across the county. As visitation coordinator, she has cultivated relationships with a nearby zoo, sports team, water park, and metro park to offer families an entertaining and adventurous setting for parent-child visitation. She has arranged for youth in care to attend camp, gymnastics classes, and swim lessons free of charge and secured once-in-a-lifetime event tickets for children and their families. She even secured a competitive grant from Lowe’s to replace the playground equipment and add picnic tables at the family visitation area.

Her dedication to children and families knows no bounds. She has come to work at 4 a.m. to transport a child to a medical appointment and supervised a late-evening visit to accommodate a father’s work schedule. Families respond to her, many developing a close relationship that improves engagement and speeds reunification. She readily learns and applies new skills, mentors agency staff, and models the type of commitment necessary to balance the demands of the job.

Those recommending this support staff included leadership at the agency, a supervisor who has since left the agency, and a foster parent. For her commitment, compassion and creativity, PCSAO is pleased to present Laurie Fogg of Erie County Job and Family Services with the 2017 Child Protection Support Staff of the Year award.

Dan Schneider Leadership in Child Welfare Training

David Haverfield, Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services

Haverfield

Each year, the regional training center coordinators select an outstanding trainer to receive one of our most coveted awards. As the first full-time director of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO), Dan Schneider (1951-2003) spent a lifetime advocating for children and families in Ohio. His vision of excellence in the training of child welfare professionals helped shape the formation of the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program. Begun in 2003, the Dan Schneider Award is presented annually at the PCSAO conference to an individual who reflects Dan’s commitment to improving the lives of Ohio’s children and families by providing unwavering support for the professional development of Ohio’s child welfare staff toward best-practice ideals.

We believe that this is embodied in the current director of Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services, David Haverfield. Director Haverfield passionately exhibits the outstanding qualities of Dan Schneider in many ways. After graduating from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1995, David served in private practice from 1996 to 1999 as a civil and criminal litigator, specializing in adoption and family law. After building his experience in private practice, David began work as the lead agency attorney for Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services in May 1999. He served in that role for over 16 years, even winning the OHIO PCSA ATTORNEY OF THE YEAR award for 2008, while spearheading a significant docket of cases in the juvenile court system, court of appeals, and the Ohio Supreme Court. David also has worked hundreds of hours with the Cambridge and Dover high school bands. He concurrently served as President of the Council of Personnel Board for Grace Lutheran Church and Treasurer of Boy Scouts of America, Troop 94, in Dover, Ohio.

In an effort to positively impact Ohio’s child protection system, David became certified by the OCWTP as a caseworker core trainer in 2001. Since then, he has developed his own series of specialized legal training courses and trained more than 536 staff in 44 training sessions! Most recently, David became a certified coach for the OCWTP, where he has developed a benchmark coaching approach to engage and immerse staff into a legal world where they practice and role-play court preparation and testimony. In this coaching environment, David has increased court case skill and confidence for more than 35 staff since 2015.

In January 2015, David assumed the position of executive director for Tuscarawas County JFS. Since then, he has been a highly engaged director for the Eastern Ohio PCSAO Directors team. He also provides support and legal expertise to the PCSAO Legislative Committee when he is able.

He was recently recognized for writing an article for The Columbus Dispatch in January 2017 titled “Addiction Crisis is Swamping Children Service Agencies.” His writing helped to bring state and national awareness to the opioid epidemic in Ohio. In 2016, David also accepted the President’s Award from the United Way, on behalf of his team’s efforts to increase donations in his agency by over 10 percent.

David and his wife Michelle, a professional educator for Cambridge City Schools, have been happily married 21 years and are the proud adoptive parents of three children, Will (15), Josh (12), and Emma (11). David continues to serve his family, community, state, and the nation as a dedicated child welfare professional, husband and father. David is even an actor in the Little Theater in Tuscarawas County, where he and his son recently performed in the play The Man Who Came to Dinner. David and Michelle also make time to travel with their youngest son for a baseball traveling team and their daughter who is an accomplished ballet dancer.

Many of my colleagues knew Dan Schneider very well, and one of them, with David’s nomination, told us of how David reminds him of Dan in almost every way. Dan would be proud of someone like David representing this award and, we believe, would genuinely think David Haverfield is worthy of the 2017 Dan Schneider award.