ST. GEORGE — Child welfare staff from within the Division of Child and Family Services across the Southwest Region of Utah were recognized for their work at an awards luncheon Wednesday.
The luncheon was held at the Utah Department of Human Service office located at 178 N. 200 East in St. George.
“They are really underappreciated in our community as a whole and I’m glad to see them getting this positive recognition,” Ben Ashcraft said of those being honored.
Ashcraft is a lead foster adoptive consultant for Utah Foster Care in Southern Utah and co-chair for the Quality Improvement Committee, which is an oversight committee for state child welfare workers.
The luncheon was catered by Port of Subs thanks to the generous donations from the St. George Exchange Club, an organization involved in child abuse prevention and one of the event’s sponsors.
Other community sponsors included the Quality Improvement Committee, Utah Foster Care, the Family Support Center and the Paiute Tribe.
The Family Support Center provided gift bags for each worker to “acknowledge their appreciation for their hard work,” Ashcraft said.
The Paiute Tribe presented a medal of honor to several employees and foster parents during the event as well.
The employees and foster parents selected for the honor were first nominated by community members, local foster parents, local agencies and other state workers. Each nominee was reviewed before a vote took place to select the award recipients.
A complete list of recipients for St. George and Cedar City can be found in the gallery of this report.
In many jobs throughout the community, people work behind the scenes serving and protecting the community, Ashcraft said. Often the impact they have on society goes unrecognized.
That still doesn’t take away from the fact that they are heroes, Ashcraft added, noting that 120 of these child case workers are here, serving in the Southern Utah Region.
By the time children in the United States reach adulthood, 37 percent have crossed paths with Child Protective Services as potential victims of maltreatment, according to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
The primary goal of the Division of Child and Family Service is to reunify children with their parents, if the recommended changes can be made to ensure child safety. If reunification isn’t possible then state workers, along with other team members, spend an enormous amount of time and effort considering other options, including adoption or guardianship.
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
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