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April 17, 2012
Montanans honored for work preventing child abuse and neglect
Montanans dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect were honored today at the annual Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Conference in Helena, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced.
Those recognized were licensed foster parents, a judge, youth in foster care, child advocates, a legislator and DPHHS Child and Family Services Division staff.
“Today we honor those who have worked so hard to prevent child abuse and neglect,” DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell said. “I am so proud of all the extra effort put forth by these outstanding individuals. These people have really stepped up to the plate to help children. I know that in order to prevent child abuse and neglect it takes all of us working together.”
The award winners are from Arlee, Kalispell, Butte, Bozeman, Missoula, Deer Lodge, Billings and Livingston.
DPHHS gave out the following awards:
- Montana’s Children’s Trust Fund Award. The Trust Fund, administratively attached to DPHHS, provides financial support to local programs across the state to prevent child abuse and neglect and strengthen families. The Trust Fund board honors an individual every year who has gone above and beyond to help children and families.
Award winner: Montana Senator Carol Williams, Missoula. Montana Senator Carol Williams has spent a lifetime helping children and families in many capacities as an activist, educator, legislator, mother and grandmother. She is currently serving her second term in the Montana State Senate.
- Resource Parents of the Year. Two sets of parents received this award. This award goes to foster/adoptive parent(s) who are committed to excellence in working with birth parents and foster/adoptive children. Two sets of parents were honored this year.
Award winner: T.J. and Roberta Haynes, Arlee. The Haynes family has provided many years of outstanding service to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to children in need. They have provided care for the past 11 years on the Flathead Reservation. The Haynes provide unconditional love and tireless care to the many children they have parented. Their home is viewed as a safe haven for children in their community.
Award winner: Larry and Sheila Zachary, Deer Lodge. The Zachary family became licensed foster parents in 2005. At that time, they saw a need for stable, loving foster homes, and had a deep desire to help children who had been abused or neglected. They have always understood the importance of keeping siblings together, and of working to help children stay connected to all the important people in their lives. They consistently go the extra mile for what is in the best interest of the children in their care.
- Youth Achievement of the Year. Two youth received this award. This award is given to a foster or adoptive youth who exhibits a drive to be successful and make positive changes in their life.
Award winner: Kristi Kay Lindgren, Kalispell. Kristi is a 17-year-old senior at Glacier High School. She has been in foster care since 2003. She recently earned straight A’s while taking some very difficult classes and is on target to start college this fall. She hopes to become an anesthesiologist. Kristi plans to attend the computer camp for foster kids this summer. She plays the flute and has attended many band camps over the years. Kristi is an amazing youth who has overcome many challenges and has been able to be a wonderful role model to all that work with her in that she never gives up.
Award winner: Lora Murphy, Butte. Lora has been in foster care for nine years. She maintains excellent grades, participates in several sports and is a positive role model for her peers. Lora was selected for the National Honor Society and participated in the Teens in Partnership where she meets with younger peers to discuss topics such as peer pressure, drug use and suicide. Her current project is helping develop a support group for foster children. She has goals to attend college and have a successful career helping others.
- Above and Beyond Award. This award goes to an individual who performs above and beyond the call of duty, gives their time to support the unit, team, agency and /or community.
Award winner: Judge Randal Spaulding, Roundup. Judge Randal Spaulding serves the 14th Judicial District in Roundup. He always takes extra effort in the courtroom to explain the policies and procedures regarding the court and CFSD. Judge Spaulding does a great job of making the parents feel comfortable as well as witnesses, attorneys, and the children who are involved. His goal is to make sure that children have the best chance to be safe.
- Engaging Families in Positive Change. This award goes to an individual who works with families to carry out the mission of CFSD in a manner that is positive and respectful of each family’s strengths.
Award winner: Joe Albro, CFSD supervisor, Gallatin County. Joe oversees seven social workers and one administrative support staff. He has a reputation for excellence and commitment to the CFSD and has demonstrated that for 30 years. He works tirelessly to help and mentor families in the community.
The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) organization also gave out several awards. CASA refers to trained community volunteers appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. CASA award winners were:
- Judge of the Year. The Honorable Steward E. Stadler, Kalispell.
Judge Stadler started the Accountability Court in the Flathead. He had a vision of creating an option within the traditional adversarial system for families in crisis. On a tight budget, this court operates as an integral part of the dependent/neglect case process. Families are often reunified sooner or parents come to realize that relinquishment is best for the child.
- Director of the Year. LaNette Diaz, Missoula CASA
LaNette has been executive director for three years now. Volunteer numbers have increased from 27 to 70 active volunteers. She hired an outside consultant to complete an organizational assessment of CASA on how to improve and began a fundraiser called Mad Mudder that raised around $13,000 last year.
- CASA Volunteer of the Year. Gloria Trevizo, Yellowstone County.
She has advocated for 15 children in the last 3.5 years in Yellowstone County. She goes above and beyond and approaches everything in her life with the same dedication and determination.
- CASA Child Protection Specialist Worker of the Year. Jacquie Poe of CFSD, nominated by the 6th Judicial CASA in Livingston.
Director Ann Schilling calls Poe “the most dedicated, organized, compassionate and straight forward CPS worker. You always know exactly where she stands on an issue while at the same time very willing to explore different ideas on how to best serve a child’s needs.” She has served eight years in Livingston with many CASA volunteers that are all impressed by how she handles her cases.