JusticeWorks FRS Linda Coleman Receives Praise!

Email from a Carbon County CYS Caseworker:


This email is in reference to the Davis* Family and the Family Group Decision Making Conference that was held in July. This FGDM was so successful and I cannot thank Linda Coleman enough for all that she has done for this family. Linda went above and beyond and worked very hard to help these people. I was pleased with the outcome and look forward to working with her again in the future.

It took a while to get a FGDM conference to happen. Mrs. Davis* was apprehensive, and her daughter, Krista* was afraid of both parents. (more…)

A Montgomery County Employee Receives Recognition from Montgomery County Department of Children and Youth

Jessalyn Britton

A Children and Youth caseworker emailed our Montgomery County Program Director, Nicole Hall, regarding Jessalyn (Jess) Britton, a Family Resource Specialist working on a family reunification case:

“I am so pleased with her work Nicole!  Jess was a huge part of making everything work for the reunification on Monday.  She has done more work in the month that she has been involved than another service that was in the home for over a year.  She is diligent and so organized.  I look forward to working with her on more cases.”

We greatly appreciate this wonderful feedback regarding Jess Britton of our Montgomery Team.  Thank you, Jess, for making reunification possible for this family.  We appreciate and value the work that you do for the safety and personal growth of the families we serve.

Enhancing Transition Plans with the use of Family Group Decision Making!

Left to right: Colleen Cox, Amy Carr, and Jaclyn Conklin

Left to right: Colleen Cox, Amy Carr, and Jaclyn Conklin

On June 29, 2017, Amy Carr from Monroe County JusticeWorks, and Jaclyn Conklin, Director of Chester County JusticeWorks, partnered with Colleen Cox, Representative from the PA Child Welfare Resource Center, in conducting an informative and highly engaging presentation at this year’s State Wide Adoption Network (SWAN) conference. They were chosen to speak on the topic of ‘Using Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) to Enhance Youth Transition Plans.’ Amy, Jackie, and Colleen are very passionate about FGDM and how the FGDM philosophy assists in a youth’s successful transition out of the foster care system and back to the community. (more…)

Adams County Employee Receives Gratitude from a Parent

Ericka BrunnerEricka Brunner, Family Resource Specialist in Adams County, had been working on a difficult case involving a 17-year-old young man who had been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. He had self-harming behaviors as well as a long history of CYF involvement for crisis related behaviors in the home. Ericka assisted the family in providing stability within the home. She continued to conduct daily visits with the family, including while they were on a camping vacation, responding to a few crisis situations while they were on vacation. The family connected with Ericka, building a therapeutic relationship and partnership which gave the family the ability to build normalcy in their lives for the first time in a long time. Ericka also assisted in connecting the family to long-term resources in the community. All of Ericka’s hard work was recognized by the message that was sent to her from the young man’s mother:

“Hi Dear, I just want you to know how much we think of you and all the help you have given us. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You have done more in such short time than any other person. You are in the right job.”

Thank you, Ericka, for doing ‘whatever it takes’ to accomplish success with this family. As a valued employee, your contributions to the JWYC Mission are appreciated.

Naomi Watson of Montgomery County Demonstrates the Art of Family Engagement!

Naomi WatsonNaomi Watson of our Montgomery County office has really exuded the ‘Whatever It Takes’ mentality that JusticeWorks is founded on. On her weekend off, one of Naomi’s clients was evicted from her family home along with her two young children and newborn infant. Naomi promptly went and picked the family up and took them to get something to eat and discuss what happened. Naomi was able to get the mother to open up and tell the truth about what happened. After comforting the family, Naomi went back with them to their family home where she facilitated a meeting between Mom and Grand mom and was able to get them to open about their argument, getting to the root of the issue being Grand mom’s frustration with her daughter. Naomi helped the family come up with a plan to address the concerns that Grand mom had for her daughter and grandchildren, she allowed them back into the home and admitted she never wanted to kick them out in the first place, but had just been frustrated and at a loss of what else to do. Naomi then discussed getting a Family Group Decision Making planned with the Caseworker for the family in order to make sure everyone is up to date with expectations and come up with a plan on how to accomplish each task. Clearly Naomi’s hard work and determination prevented the situation from getting worse, and led to a positive outcome. JusticeWorks is truly thankful for all of the hard work Naomi puts towards her cases.

Thank you, Naomi, for going above the call of duty to assist this family. Your compassion and professionalism produced a successful outcome for all involved.

Recognition from Monroe County

Melinda Cruz

Email received by Melinda Cruz’s supervisor:

Hi Amy, I just wanted to reach out to explain how grateful I am for Melinda’s diligent work on the Dean* case. In the past, the kids have appeared sad and withdrawn at times. Since Melinda started working with them, I have noticed their personalities are blossoming. They are more talkative and appear more comfortable around their caregivers. I attribute this to Melinda working with the family since I have noticed this change since she was assigned the case.

Melinda has really taken a creative approach to this case. When I made the referral for the family, I was not quite sure what I wanted to see happen. I knew the overall goal, that I wanted the kids to feel safe and secure in their home and to improve their relationship with their stepmother, but I had no idea how to achieve it. Melinda has taken this vision and made it a reality for the family.

Thanks again,
Kate Mae Croll
Monroe County Children & Youth Services

Thank you, Ms. Croll, for your feedback regarding our Monroe County employee, Melinda Cruz. Many thanks to Melinda for your ability to connect with this family and provide a wonderful example of the JusticeWorks mission.

Praise from Monroe County Caseworker

Email received by Karen’s supervisor:

Karen McKeownHi Amy,

I just want to let you know how much I ADORE Karen (McKeown). She is doing so well with the Kraft family. Mom and even the kids express enjoying their visits more and how they have so much fun during their visits. Karen also comes up with amazing suggestions for locations of visits. I feel like these kids are having high quality visits with their mom and also together.

I really appreciate all of the positive work Karen is doing with the family!!

Thank you,

Crystal Rivera
Monroe County Children and Youth Services

Thank you Crystal for the wonderful feedback!  Karen, we appreciate hearing about the great success our team shares with the families we serve.  Thank you for going the extra mile to ensure that these visits make a life lasting impact on the children and their mother.

Pike County: Clearing the Way to Learn!

Amanda ChapmanEmail received by Amanda’s regional director:

I just wanted to shoot you a quick email about the great Job Amanda Chapman did with the Torrey Family in the Wallenpaupack South Elementary school. I have been a police officer for over 26 years and now work for the Wallenpaupack School Police at the South School. I have dealt with many agencies in my years as a police officer and most of them have not been very satisfying.

Amanda did an amazing job with this family and having us all work together to help them when they were in need. I wish more people took their jobs to heart like she does. The family is doing well now and this would not be the case without the efforts of Amanda.

Way too often people are quick to write about the bad but never the good. This is why I felt I needed to give her a thumbs up and a pat on the back.

Matthew McCormack
SRO Wallenpaupack South School

Thank you Officer McCormack for the kind words. Amanda, you are an asset to the agency! We value your hard work and dedication to the families you serve.

A Note of Appreciation from Washington County Children and Youth Services!

A note received by Brittanie Wudkwych’s supervisor:

Brittanie Wudkwych


I wanted to send an email about Brittanie. She is such an awesome FRS and does so much for the families that she and I share. She is always available at the drop of a hat when things start to go wrong. She is always good with the families and a very calming effect and is super helpful to me as a caseworker. I can always count on her case notes to be very detailed and accurate. I look forward to the cases we share because I know I can count on her and that she is always just a phone call away to brain storm over the case and come up with plans that might be outside of the normal “CYS” box.

Just wanted to say thank you for having such an awesome FRS.

Amy Szymanski
Caseworker II
Washington County Children and Youth Services

Thank you Amy for the kind words and vote of confidence in our staff. Brittanie, we appreciate the “Whatever It Takes” attitude you present to every family you work with. You are an asset to our team!

JusticeWorks’ Lehigh County FGDM Team Receives Praise!

Email from Lehigh County Office of Children and Youth Service

Ashley and Whitney

Good Afternoon Mike,

I wanted to commend Ashley Jacoby and Whitney Berrio. The FGDM I attended this past Sunday, coordinated by Ashley and facilitated by Whitney was executed with a high degree of professionalism, to say the least. Whitney and Ashley were extremely prepared. Their preparedness allowed them to guide and redirect a heated moment in the FGDM to a positive outcome. Their ability to de-escalate and redirect these type of scenarios affirms their high degree of competence and skill. This is not the first FGDM I have observed by these two workers that resulted in positive outcomes for the family. Ashley and Whitney bring credit to themselves and their Agency for a Job well done!!!!

Edwin Rodriguez, MSW
Casework Supervisor
Office of Children & Youth Services

Thank you Edwin for the kind words, we appreciate the great feedback! Thank you Ashley and Whitney, for your expertise and professionalism in providing FGDM for our JWYC families. Your teamwork and decisiveness led this conference to a successful outcome.

Congratulations Ty Kanouff: New Education Director for Compass Academy Lycoming

Ty KanouffGood afternoon,

We wanted to take a moment to recognize Compass Academy Lycoming Supervisor Ty Kanouff. Over the past year, Ty has been instrumental in the growth of Compass Lycoming in his supervisory position. He wears multiple hats in order to successfully manage a healthy alternative education setting. Ty shows up every single day and puts in maximum effort with the students in our program. He brings a huge personality that brightens the day of not only our students, but also our staff. He is tremendous for our culture and is a reason why many of us enjoy coming into work each and every day, especially for our students who have a history challenging relations with academics.

Ty started with JusticeWorks in April of 2015 as a Family Resource Specialist in Lycoming County, and was promoted to the Supervisor position in early 2016.

As a result of Ty’s contributions towards growing Compass Lycoming from 1 student on 1/29/16 to 34 students on 2/17/17, Ty has been promoted to Educational Director!

So please reach out to Ty and extend a congratulations to Ty, our new Educational Director!

‘A Pat on the Back’ for our Chester County Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) Coordinator, Rebecca Piorko-Shelly from Chester County Children, Youth and Family Services!

Below is an email from a CYF Caseworker to Rebecca’s supervisor.

Rebecca Piorko-ShellyI had a FGDM meeting on Saturday which, I have to admit, thought was going to be a mess. The participants are grandparents taking care of young girls while we are trying to reunify the girls with mom.

This ended up being the best conference I have had!  Rebecca Piorko-Shelly was able to get it done with professionalism and respect to all members. There were a few negative things being said, but Rebecca was able to pull it back where it needed to be. The group listened carefully and knew what was happening at all times.

I can’t say enough about how good Rebecca was with the conference. She deserves a pat on the back!!

Thank you,

Jill Wade

Chester County Children Youth and Families

Thank you Jill for providing wonderful feedback.  Rebecca, we appreciate the high standard of care you provide to ensure positive outcomes for every family you work with.

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