Gregg Stirzel, Family Support Worker
Gregg recently provided exemplary efforts in helping a young father succeed. Gregg was identified as a support for a father with a heroin addiction. A plan of safety was implemented and father’s young daughter was placed with a family friend. Father (Steve) agreed to begin methadone treatment and the Caseworker requested that Gregg act as a support to Steve. Steve did not have a positive male role model because his own father had left when he was young. Gregg met with Steve whenever Steve needed him. Having Gregg model what it is like to be responsible parent and prioritize one’s family had a direct, positive, impact on Steve. With Gregg’s help, Steve met his outlined case goals. Steve has maintained his sobriety and he has been reunited with his daughter who is now back with him full time.
Brice Johnston, Caseworker III
Brice consistently offers support and help to those around him. During a recent emergency placement, Brice stepped in to help a coworker and family. Brice utilized his knowledge and expertise to complete all necessary paperwork while providing empathy towards the family. Although Brice has his own complex workload, he is always willing to lend a hand and provide information and support to a colleague. Brice goes “the extra mile” on a daily basis to assist his coworkers and to ensure safety of children in Montgomery County.
Brenda Persun, Caseworker
Brenda was recognized by Juvenile Court Judge and Administrative Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy at a recent staff meeting. Brenda was the assigned worker to a family case under court supervision. The family was dealing with several complex issues and numerous safety concerns were identified. Judge Demchick-Alloy ordered multiple visits each week by the caseworker to the family home because of serious family issues. Brenda also maintained a full caseload at this time. Despite her hectic schedule, Brenda visited the family weekly and provided intensive direct services. Judge Demchick-Alloy was very pleased at the family’s progress under Brenda’s supervision and complimented Brenda for her hard work, commitment and dedication to her case families.
Jameelah Bostic, Caseworker
Despite Jameelah being a new Caseworker with our office, she handles herself like a seasoned professional. While juggling the normal barrage of incoming cases, Jameelah recently handled a “Friday at 4:00” emergency like a true veteran. When the emergency call came in, Jameelah ensured that all her other responsibilities were managed and without a second thought, jumped in her car with a local detective, and made her way to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to assess an abused child. She put her personal plans for Friday night aside and tended to the needs of the child and the responsibilities of our office. Jameelah is a true caring professional in all that she does. Her skills are clearly evident. Jameelah listens without judging and remains calm and professional even under duress. Her empathy is obvious and her clients quickly realize she is there to help them. Jameelah offers solutions and hope every day to families served by our office.
Clare Henderson, Caseworker
Clare did an outstanding job on a recent complex case. The case involved human trafficking of a 17 year old girl (Julia) who was living in a friend’s back yard in a tent. Julia decided to leave Pennsylvania to go to Florida with an older man. Clare handled the complex aspects of this case which included dealing with a Sheriff’s Department in Florida, the Interstate Compact office, and maintaining continual contact with the Julia’s parents who did not want their child and who were content to have her remain in Florida. Despite all the challenges, Clare never wavered on her dedication to have Julia return to Pennsylvania. After much preparation, Clare and her supervisor went to Florida to meet Julia, get to know her, and help her understand her options. Clare assisted Julia in being less apprehensive and less reluctant to return to Pennsylvania. Once back in Pennsylvania, Clare spent many hours meeting with and talking with Julia, as well as, working with the police and the FBI to identify Julia’s human traffickers in Philadelphia. Julia remains safe in Children & Youth custody. Without Clare’s constant guidance, Julia would still be in the hands of her traffickers instead of facing a bright future.
Fred Blankenburg, Casework Supervisor II
Leading up to and during our state Quality Service Review, Fred assumed a vital role in ensuring a successful review. In additional to his regular responsibilities, Fred’s assigned job for the review was to assist in scheduling individual interviews for five (5) families. Following initial contact, two (2) of the five (5) families declined to participate in the interviews which are vital to the review process. Fred, however, used his gentle and persuasive skills to engage the families; ultimately, getting all the families to agree to participate in the review process. Once the interviews were confirmed and the onsite review began, Fred was the “go-to” person to reach out to families and smooth any problems or obstacles that came up during the review. Fred willingly assisted every time he was needed. Fred’s involvement with the Quality Service Review extended well beyond what was originally requested of him and without hesitation he went “the extra mile.”
Valerie Parker, Casework Supervisor
Valerie worked as a team with her Casework staff and did an outstanding job on an extremely complex case. The case had been opened with Children & Youth for several years before it was ultimately assigned to a Caseworker in Valerie’s Unit. In this complicated case, the birth mother informed the agency that the birth father was deceased and because of her child’s special needs, she could not parent her. The child (Angela) was placed in foster care and the foster family was identified as an adoptive resource for Angela. Years later it would be learned that the birth father was not deceased, but rather very much alive and without knowledge that he had a child. Under guidance of the court, years of work was reversed by the agency. Work with the birth father was especially difficult because he resides out-of-state. To determine the father’s interest and capacity to parent Angela, the case team spent two nights every week at the foster home to observe skype visits between Angela and her father. The case team took Angela to therapy sessions, and managed a multitude of meetings, court hearings, phone calls, emails and paperwork. When it was determined that Angela would be united with her father, Valerie personally accompanied her Caseworker and made the 13 hour trip with Angela to unite her with her birth father and to secure a happy ending for this child.
Marlene Foley, Caseworker
Marlene provided outstanding support to a family in need. Marlene’s assigned case family was an unemployed homeless pregnant mother (Chris) and three children. Chris has a boyfriend who works, however, he lacks transportation and housing. Chris and her children were living out of her car. The family has been on the waiting list for housing since December 2015. The night that turned into an emergency was a bitter cold night and the family needed a place to stay. Marlene considered foster care for the children to keep them warm and safe, but she did not want to break up this family due only to lack of housing. It was decided to put the family up in a hotel, but the hotel would not accept the agency credit card. At that point, Marlene paid $100 cash out of her own pocket to ensure the family had a place to stay. Marlene’s selfless act kept the children warm and safe and the family intact until housing arrangements could be made. Although Marlene was not expecting it, due to her selfless nature, she was of course reimbursed by the agency for her expenses.
Veronica Hilghman, Office Support Person
A successful state Quality Service Review is a huge undertaking and our success is due in large part to the hard work and effort of Veronica. Not only did Veronica assist the entire site lead team and all reviewers during the onsite review, she spent many hours leading up to the review doing work behind the scenes. Examples of tasks completed by Veronica included accompanying reviewers to their interviews, ensuring sufficient supplies were available and copies were made, trouble shooting phone and computer issues, setting up case records in the review room on a daily basis, assisting with overall room arrangements, and handling any other tasks that arose. Veronica did all of this while keeping up with her usual work demands and our Quality Service Review went off without a hitch.