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Profiles of Hope and Courage

Children Services in the Era of COVID-19

PCSAO is collecting stories from the front lines of child protection to raise awareness of the challenges our children services professionals, and the families they serve, are facing during this pandemic. Despite all the changes in their daily lives, they remain hopeful and courageous.

New stories will be added periodically.

Marcus: Helping people is my passion


Marcus is a caseworker with Mahoning County Children Services. While he has only been in his current job for ten months, he is not new to working with youth and families. He has served as a court investigator with Mahoning County and a mental health specialist with Youngstown City Schools. In his free time, he coaches youth track and volleyball.

“I love helping people,” said Marcus. “This is my passion.”

It has been hard for Marcus to adjust to checking in with clients virtually.

“For me, I am a people person, I like to engage face to face. It was hard for me to take a step back,” said Marcus. “I’m definitely going back to home visits as soon as possible so I can give that extra hand if needed.”

Even though he is not seeing many people face-to-face now, Marcus remains dedicated to his clients. He shared the story of one client, “Ms. D” (name changed to protect privacy). Ms. D has been diligently working her case plan since Marcus was assigned to her. She met all her goals for the past year while her son and daughter were in foster care in different homes.

Ms. D. has maintained her sobriety and celebrated an entire year of recovery. At her own initiative, she joined a recovery program and completed a program to improve her financial skills. She had weekly visits with her children at children services agency. The court recognized Ms. D.’s progress and granted her unsupervised weekend visits.

The weekend visits were going well for several months. However, when the stay-at-home order was issued, the foster caregiver for Ms. D’s daughter was not comfortable with the girl leaving for a visit and returning because of the exposure risk. Many foster caregivers have expressed concerns about this. Ms. D’s son continued his visits because his foster caregiver was willing to do so.

Ms. D. was devastated by not being able to see her daughter in person. She called Marcus in tears. She felt as though all her hard work was for nothing.

“I felt bad that Ms. D.’s daughter couldn’t visit face-to-face with her family. However, I made sure I kept the family’s spirits up,” said Marcus.

Ms. D kept working her case plan, and her hard work paid off. She was recently reunified with both her children. The magistrate in her case applauded her success. Ms. D. could not hold back her tears of happiness and excitement when Marcus arrived with her daughter.

“Ms. D’s story is inspiring and encouraging. She is a shining example of maintaining her faith and working hard to get her life in order and her family back in the face of adversity and uncertain times,” explained Marcus.