(Letter received from a Lehigh County Office of Children and Youth Caseworker):
I just want to take a minute to commend JWYC staff, Rachel Diez and Karen Schubert for their exceptional work on a case!!
Their efforts are the key reason why I love working with your agency. Karen’s devotion to helping Steve* step into the parenting role and her amazing support to Andrew* has really had a positive impact on Steve* and Andrew’s* relationship. Also, the way Karen has supported Tammy*, Eddie*, and Sandy* is beyond commendable! I appreciate the countless hours Karen has put in and the numerous roles she’s played in this reunification process.
Additionally, I’m extremely thankful to Rachel Diez for her regular guidance and support to Tammy*, Steve*, and Andrew* both during and outside of visits. This family came with some challenges that may have been intimidating to others, especially with Andrew* and Steve’s* strained relationship. But Rachel provided exceptional services that I believe allowed this transition to run smoothly.
Again I want to thank you all for everything you’ve done. You guys really made the difference!!
Caseworker II, CPS Ongoing
Lehigh County Office of Children & Youth Services
Thank you, Ms. Burgess, for the kind words regarding our staff, and thank you to Karen and Rachel for partnering with this family to achieve such astounding accomplishments leading to successful reintegration. *(Names have been changed).
On my drive to participate in a Quality Service Review in Adams County, Pennsylvania, I was thinking of how fortunate I am to be able to navigate the 44 Pennsylvania counties where JusticeWorks YouthCare has operations. Pennsylvania is such a beautiful and diverse state, from busy cities to the most rural areas where a GPS may not help you.
Adams County, located in the Southern part of Pennsylvania, is home to the beautiful Gettysburg Military National Park. The County is also known as the largest producer of apples in the Commonwealth, and the fourth-largest producer of apples in the country. Before his move to the White House, it was also the home of the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
At the JusticeWorks office on Baltimore Street in Gettysburg, our Adams County Program Director, Sean Lazarus, is busy working with Adams County Children and Youth Services (ACCYS) in the implementation of a new program, the JusticeWorks Casework Field Coach program. We have enjoyed a strong partnership with Adams County Children and Youth for the past several years, and together, have collaborated on new initiatives, reduced out-of-home care, and created a safer environment for children, youth, and families in need.
ACCYS leadership were seeking ways for their caseworkers to develop in-depth knowledge of themselves and the families they serve with the dual purpose of delivering professional, quality services, and increasing staff retention. Following the extensive training requirements to be a caseworker, ACCYS wanted to create a system that built a context for the skills and information gained from training. They wanted a program that enhances engagement, self-awareness, real-time feedback, and self-care. The conception of our Casework Field Coach program came to fruition.
The Casework Field Coach proactively collaborates, supports, challenges, and provides intense preparation for new caseworkers going into the field. They provide reflective supervision and ensure that that the ‘transfer of learning’ is occurring.
The Fieldwork Coach has a caseload of ACCYS caseworkers with agency and individual goals. They build a rapport with the caseworkers and assist with their development, both in a group setting and individually. The Fieldwork Coach conducts community visits with the caseworkers, providing coaching, feedback, and ongoing conversations with caseworkers and their supervisors. They also provide monthly group sessions on a variety of topics, including mindfulness, motivational interviewing, self-care, and family engagement. It takes a team approach to build the professional development of the new caseworker.
At the start of the program, caseworkers were hesitant as they were unsure of what to expect. There were several who were questioning their desire to stay in child welfare. However, those feelings quickly dissipated once they began the program. Currently, the ACCYS caseworkers love the program, and several have voiced their eagerness to participate in it. Due to the strengths-based approach of the Field Coach, caseworkers are thriving, with some interviewing for leadership positions. We are looking forward to providing our first set of outcome data in the form of a Summary Performance Report.
Our goal is that the Casework Field Coach program will result in the retention of quality staff, create knowledgeable and talented professionals, and support higher career satisfaction.
Special thanks to the Casework Fieldcoach Implementation Team who were interviewed for this article: Sherri DePasqua (ACCYS Assistant Administrator), Nicole Masafu (ACCYS Intake Supervisor), Sheena Williams (ACCYS Family Support Supervisor), Jessi Coy (ACCYS Program Director) and Erin Goff (JWYC Caseworker Field Coach).
On November 13th, 2019, our Schuylkill County team was recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation for their participation in the Salvation Army Pottsville Corps’ Make a Difference Day! County Commissioners Gary Hess and George Halcovage were speakers at the event, and our award was presented by Commissioner Hess.
Our team was recognized for hosting a “pop-up” soup kitchen in downtown Pottsville. Two of our own, Vince Troutman and Renee Warner, made the soup. Many of our Schuylkill County staff donated drinks, crackers, rolls, and/or their time to help serve those in need. We offered 36 quarts of soup to almost 100 people in only three hours!
Next year, the Schuylkill County team plans on expanding their efforts by recruiting some of their peers in nearby counties. We look forward to growing this new JusticeWorks tradition!
JusticeWorks selected by the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judge’s Commission for the 2019 Community-based Program of the Year!
On November 7th, 2019, JusticeWorks received the 2019 Community-based Program of the Year Award at the James E. Anderson Pennsylvania Conference on Juvenile Justice. The conference was sponsored by the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission, the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and the Juvenile Court Section of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges.
Program Director, Rebecca Bieber, stated, “Our services are truly exceptional and built through amazing collaboration by public and private sector partnership. Berks County Juvenile Probation is the gold standard as a probation department and a great partner to support the youth in our community!”
Berks County won the Program of the Year award for its innovative and quality programming. Groups are offered, which include Voices and ART, along with VIP®, PACTT casework, and skill- building services. Notably, Berks also offers a Reintegration Service, initially funded through the Second Chance Act, which also won a CCAP Best Practices award earlier this year.
Most importantly, JusticeWorks thanks all the hard-working, selfless, and dynamic staff who have made a positive impact on families’ lives this past year. They are critical to the success of JWYC services.
One of the core values of JusticeWorks is to be life-long learners (someone once said there is a huge difference between having 10 years of experience and having one year of experience repeated 10 times!). We have a tuition reimbursement plan, sponsor internal and external trainings and conference participation and encourage staff to keep up with changes in our field.
I’d like to celebrate two respected members of our team who took it upon themselves to work assiduously, and for many years, to achieve a terminal degree in their field and obtain a doctoral degree!
Dr. Kieshia Martin, Program Director Philadelphia & Delaware Counties, recently walked at a graduation ceremony awarding her a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from Walden University. Kieshia’s dissertation was An Evaluation of Juveniles Serving Life in Pennsylvania Pre and Post Act 33 of 1995. Interestingly, we are now talking with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections about helping provide re-entry services to ‘juvenile lifers’ when they are released.
Dr. Jeffrey Ralph, had a trifecta this week: celebrating his eighth anniversary with JusticeWorks, celebrating his birthday and on his birthday, with his wonderful wife Mary & precious daughter McKenna looking on, successfully defending his thesis to his doctoral committee. Jeff will receive a Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Organizational Leadership from Wilmington University in Delaware. His dissertation was Essential Components of an Undergraduate Restorative Justice Course: Qualitative Perspectives from Industry and Academia.
Both Kieshia and Jeff have jobs with expansive responsibilities and extensive travel. Both had the time-consuming joy of recently having a baby in addition to their work obligations! And, both had the discipline and diligence to continue their studies and research in order to fulfill the requirements of receiving a doctorate.
Please join me in congratulating both of these consummate professionals… their increased skills and professional stature will only serve to benefit JusticeWorks.
JusticeWorks staff participated in this year’s Schuylkill County Make A Difference Day, by hosting a Pop-Up Soup Kitchen in downtown Pottsville! Two of our own, Vince Troutman and Renee Warner made soups, and many of our staff donated drinks, crackers, rolls, and/or their time to help serve. We served 36 quarts of soup to almost 100 people in need in only 3 hours!