May  2015

Meet Nwanya



Nwanya describes himself as a quiet and shy  except when he is telling jokes! He has a great sense of humor and loves to make others laugh. He gets along really well with his peers and they describe him as a sweet person who is always nice and good to everyone.


This driven young man works really hard in school. He earns As and Bs and his favorite subject is science because he loves all of the hands-on activities and experiments he does in class.


Nwanya's hard work will serve him well in his future career path. He dreams of joining the Air Force so a family that would encourage this dream would be a great fit for him.


Nwanya is very passionate about sports, particularly basketball and wrestling. He also likes playing basketball video games.


When Nwanya isn't in school, he likes to stay busy with activities. His favorite places to go are the library, the mall, Dave and Busters and anywhere that has laser tag. Nwanya enjoys listening to rap and gospel music or watching action and comedy movies. He enjoys camping outdoors and going to amusement parks.


Nwanya would do best in a two-parent household. He gets along well with others and could have siblings his age in the home. Nwanya says that he would love for his forever family to have pets or be open to having pets.


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Tragedies Affect JFS Staff, Too



We lost two children in the past two months. Trust me when I tell you no one takes that more seriously than the staff at JFS and me.

The media frenzy surrounding these deaths has included assigning blame, calling for accountability and transparency, highlighting the personnel records of our staff and examining our budget.


I will not address any of that here, other than to say investigations are underway, we will hold ourselves accountable, we will be transparent and we will continue to make changes necessary to ensure children are safe. That is, and has always been, my number one priority.


What I really want to talk about is the human side of our work. Sometimes we are seen as this faceless, bureaucratic, uncaring agency untouched by the tragedies that unfold before us.

Nothing could be further from the truth.


Behind every death is a worker or team of workers who not only know that child but, in many cases, have come to love that child. Can you imagine getting to know a baby or 2 year old or 8 year old over a course of months or years and not being devastated by their death?


Social workers choose their profession out of love. They aren't balancing numbers on a spreadsheet, developing the newest computer software or studying the latest marketing trends. They are dealing with real people who have real problems and they are working to make their lives better.

Social workers are people with hearts that break for reasons far less serious than a child dying.


Accuse them of bad judgment. Or even incompetence, if you are that infuriated. Please do not say they don't care.


I started in this profession as a frontline children's services worker. I lost sleep nearly every night over the children on my caseload. I got a sick feeling in my stomach when the phone rang late at night, worried something terrible had happened to one of the children who was my responsibility. I cried when I couldn't find the right answers and a child had to be ripped away from the only person they knew and loved to be placed with a stranger in foster care.


And let me tell you, those feelings are still there even now. Because every child we are involved with is my responsibility. I will not ever take that lightly.


I am not the only one in this building who feels that way. I have had countless conversations over the years with employees of this agency who have expressed heartfelt concern over the children in our care, their sad realities and their sometimes tragic endings. Some of those conversations have included tears and nearly all have included the sentiment that we must do everything we can to ensure the children in our care are safe.


Social workers see things on a daily basis that most people only see in their nightmares. They put their lives on the line by regularly dealing with parents, and those around them, who are drug addicted, suffering from untreated mental illness and quick to violence. They go into the worst homes in the worst neighborhoods, day and night.


It is a difficult job that pays less than those that involve crunching numbers, designing software and analyzing market research data. But they do it because it is in their nature to care deeply about their fellow human being.

So when a child dies, it reverberates throughout this whole building. You may not see it on the nightly newscast or in the next day's headlines, but the pain is real and it stays with us far beyond the short life of those headlines.



Two HCJFS Employees Win County Honors 


We are so pleased to say two of our employees won Hamilton County Employee of the Year awards. 


Judy Leonard, who has been in charge of the agency's Medicaid expansion project, won the Professional Achievement Award. Leonard continued to do her regular job in child care while absorbing the additional responsibilities of managing the addition of thousands of Medicaid applications. Even the state took note of the agency's success.


Tamara Harrison, a children's services worker, is this year's County Hero. She was chosen for going above and beyond for the kids on her caseload, including one foster youth who needed everything from transportation to school to help learning to drive. Harrison provided all that to him and more.


The winners will be honored on Fountain Square May 14 as part of Public Service Recognition Week.



Family Fund Donations Now Accepted Online




We now have a way to help foster children make college visits, provide toiletries or toys to abused children and aid low-income families with needs beyond job assistance, food and medical care.


Hamilton County's Board of County Commissioners recently approved the FAMILY (Friends and Advocates Making Investments in Local Youth) Fund to help the agency cover expenses that are either not permitted under state and federal programs for which there are limited funds.


For example, the agency might not have funds to cover a foster child's expenses to participate in an after-school sport, wear a cap and gown to graduation or take a trip to visit a college.


Now, the FAMILY Fund gives local residents a way to make tax-free donations to assist in paying for these types of expenses.