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A Workforce Celebration: The Frontline Worker

Frontline workers handle the daily responsibilities aimed at promoting children's safety, permanence, and well-being. They and their supervisors play a critical role in the process of determining whether an abuse or neglect report is substantiated, what services families that come into the system should receive, if a child should be removed from their home, where a child who has been removed from the home will be placed, when they will see their biological family and if they will be reunited with them, where they will attend school, and more.

Frontline workers are often the under-recognized heroes of the child welfare system. They make critical contributions every day, despite the many challenges that their jobs present. To acknowledge their extraordinary efforts, CWLA member agencies nominated individuals who consistently implement high-quality, responsive direct practice.

CWLA applauds these outstanding frontline workers for their dedicated service and exemplary contributions in serving children and families.

Jennifer Ball, Intervention Caseworker III
Muskingum County Children Services, Zanesville, OH

There is one word that comes to mind to fully describe Jennifer Ball and the outstanding child welfare work that she accomplishes and that word is "WOW"! Jennifer's calm, methodical, yet passionate work on behalf of children and families' truly creates miracles. Jennifer is dedicated to her families' and exceedingly loyal to the agency's mission of providing world class child welfare services.

Jennifer has truly mastered the concept and service delivery of strength-based, family-centered practice. Jennifer's interpersonal skills are extraordinary as well whether she is engaged with clients, caregivers or colleagues. Jennifer always presents as a true, caring professional whatever the circumstance.

Jennifer has served the agency as an assessment caseworker, an intervention caseworker and in her current role (a brand new position to her and the agency) as a generalist caseworker. Jennifer's current position allows the agency to utilize her immense skills in a broad spectrum of cases throughout the service array; ie. intake, intervention, foster care, adoption, and kinship care. Jennifer truly exemplifies all that is noble in our wonderful profession.

Justin Welch, Lead Foster Care Licensing Specialist
Children's Home Society of North Carolina, Inc., Greensboro, NC

Justin has been a dedicated and valued member of the CHS child welfare team for the past 14 years; 3 of those years were working 24/7 in a group home setting, and 11 years in foster care. Just this past year, Justin was promoted to a Lead Foster Care Licensing Specialist and has supervisory responsibilities over the foster care licensing staff. Beyond that, he also manages a number of foster families for the agency.

Justin is both dedicated and professional in doing this important work. He has an impeccable work ethic, and balances the needs of foster parents with the challenging needs of the youth being served. Justin has a well developed understanding of how to match complex needs of children into homes that can help them thrive. He is tenacious and leads by example.

It is an honor to work beside Justin, and we are pleased that he was recognized by CWLA as a child welfare professional that had something important to say.

Goaline Mouzon, Intensive Family Preservation Specialist
Children's Home Society of North Carolina, Inc., Greensboro, NC

Goaline has been with CHS for almost two years, serving as an Intensive Family Preservation Specialist. As part of this role, she has developed strong and effective partnerships with the agency's public child welfare partners that enable the agency and this program to thrive and reach excellent outcomes for the families she serves.

She is very engaging with her families and this allows her to create the atmosphere that welcomes the difficult changes that many of these families have to make in order to succeed. She has worked nights and weekends regularly to meet the needs of her families. She has also worked with supervisory staff in special projects and volunteered to assist in quality improvement efforts for the agency.

CHS is grateful to have Goaline as part of our child welfare family and are grateful for the incredible and successful work she has done to keep families together and children out of the foster care system.

Tracy Pait, Foster Care Specialist
Children's Home Society of North Carolina, Inc., Greensboro, NC

Tracy has been a foster care specialist with CHS for almost four years. She supervises child placements including children with therapeutic needs. Additionally, Tracy facilitates trainings for foster parents, supports their licensure and re-licensure processes, and manages permanency planning for the children she is entrusted to serve. She has committed more than nine years to the child welfare system.

Tracy is reliable and a consistent team player, and beyond that is an effective advocate for those she serves. In the past year, she worked with a youth who was a senior in high school with noted potential. When the child's birth family could not provide her the support she needed, Tracy stepped up and encouraged this youth by attending her basketball games, encouraged her to pursue continuing education, and assisted with the complicated application processes. Once accepted, Tracey secured luggage for her, took her shopping, and continued to support her as she began her college journey.

CHS is proud to have Tracy as part of our child welfare team and family!!

Mirna Ricketts, Family Advocate
Neighbor to Family, Stone Mountain, GA

Neighbor to Family selected Mirna Ricketts, based on her performance as a family advocate. Ms. Ricketts works very diligently with birth families to facilitate the reunification process and while until recently she was the only Advocate for the agency's program, she did not complain about the size of her case load. She makes contacts in the community and teaches her birth parents how to locate resources for themselves. Ms. Ricketts is especially appreciated in the Spanish-speaking community because she is bi-lingual. Parents are usually surprised when she is able to speak to them in their native tongue.

Recently, Ms. Ricketts was instrumental in helping reunify a mother and her two children. The children were being reared by their maternal grandmother and her husband and were being abused. While working with the children's mother and going to court, it was revealed that the children thought their grandmother was their mother. She had obtained "custody" of them when they were very young and they thought their mother was their aunt. Ms. Ricketts worked with the mother to secure stable employment, housing & furniture, and pay off old bills. The children were returned to her care late last year.

Nancy Wolf, Child Welfare Specialist III
Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Children & Family Services Division, Adair County

Nancy is a person who is motivated and interested in families and children. She works consistently with families to provide them with services which improve the home needs for children. She is diligent in keeping families together, providing frequent family visits, and overcoming barriers for children in and out of their home. Nancy works a multiple of programs, permanency planning, independent living, foster home services, and develops new resources for the county. She is trusted by her families and children, and involves community partners and resources in building a successful outcome.

Nancy attends teen conferences with the independent living children and works with them on the skills they will need for adult living. She coordinates events with the Foster Parent Association, plans monthly meetings and focus groups for their input on developing better services. She can go from being Mrs. Santa, to hiding Easter eggs, to team builder and mentor to all. Nancy maintains a positive attitude; she knows the importance of her job and is truly committed to ensuring the safety and stability of children.

Jessica Nievera McCluskey
Rhode Island Council of Resource Provider for Children, Youth & Families (RICORP), East Providence, RI

The person RICORP has selected is Jessica Nievera McCluskey. Jessica is the agency's Youth Experiencing Self-Sufficiency (YESS) Aftercare Services Program Coordinator. Jessica consistently goes above and beyond for every young person that participates in the agency's programs. She has been a dedicated youth advocate for over 15 years and her work has spanned the continuum of services. Jessica prides herself on being fair to every young person she comes in contact with and leveling the playing field for all youth in care. She not only strives to instill personal responsibility but makes sure that she provides young people with the tools, skills and confidence in their own abilities to achieve personal responsibility. Jessica's approach with youth is honest, caring and supportive; however, she doesn't allow youth to make excuses for themselves...which youth respond to with a refreshed energy and understanding that only they can make a true and meaningful commitment to better their lives and surround themselves with the people who can help them make it happen.

Jessica leads by example and is an integral part of the agency's team. We don't know what any of us would do without her!

Stacey Greenberg, Adoption Case Manager
One Hope United, Orlando, FL

Stacey Greenberg is an Adoption Case Manager with One Hope United in the Florida Region. Stacey came to the agency in 2007. She earned a Bachelors Degree from Bucknell University with dual majors in English and Psychology. She is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Central Florida to be completed in August 2012. In 2009, Stacey went to Africa for a mission trip with the organization Children of the Nations to learn and interact with orphans in Malawi.

Since being with One Hope United, Stacey has been awarded for her outstanding work. One Hope United's Quality Star Award for outstanding performance in the area of quality services; Family Services of Metro Orlando's Excellence in Casework; and One Hope United's Keeping Our Promises of Hope for modeling the values of hope, including inspiration, positive attitude, encouragement, persistence and respect. This is exemplified in a success story told in her own words: "This is one of my favorite stories where I pushed for best practice adoptions despite the challenges, A 14 year old son of a prostitute was being adopted when it was discovered that his mother had an infant son. The adoptive family of whom the teenager had bonded with did not feel they had the capacity to adopt a 14 year old and an infant. We wanted to keep them together, however, due to their age difference, finding that one family that was best for both boys was not to happen. We inquired with the 14 year olds match family and found that they had close friends who wanted to was a match made in heaven. They were able to be part of each other's lives and develop a close relationship. Four years later the teenager, now 18, is joining the army as a military policeman. His younger brother is thriving in his home and the boys not only have their forever families but each other."

This is only one of the many success stories that Stacey has played a critical part in serving the children and families we serve. We are very proud to have Stacey on our team to protect children and strengthen families.

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