CWLA is pleased to announce the first recipients of the CWLA 100th Anniversary Promoting Leaders for the Future Award. This new award is being given monthly to staff in a member agency whose chosen profession of child welfare provides essential and much-needed services to children and families. It is a heartfelt thank you from the creators of the award to these future leaders for making their communities and our world a better place.   

The member agency’s selection of their staff members to receive the award is an acknowledgement of the individual’s commitment and initiative towards achieving the organization’s mission success; ability to work well with colleagues and share knowledge for mutual growth and support; and dedication to improve outcomes for the children and families served. Chosen award recipients receive a certificate and are invited to select a book of their choice from among the large number of CWLA Press titles and children’s books.

The CWLA member agency, randomly chosen, was the Connecticut Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Families in Rocky Hill, CT. The agency’s Executive Director, Margaret Doherty, shared that their staff selection was guided by the acronym STARR, which was coined by their Board President to describe the agency’s work.  The award recipients are:

Support: Joseph Montalvo
Training: Jinnel D’Hereaux
Advocacy: Debra Candelora
Recruitment: Raymond Ortiz
Retention: Jennifer Rivera

The CWLA Press titles selected are: Saying Goodbye to a Baby and Working with Traumatized Children. The award recipients shared why they selected these books:

Raymond Ortiz – “I selected Saying Goodbye to a Baby by Patricia Roles because a lot of people don’t take into consideration how the parent who had to give a child away feels or what kind of mental affects it may have caused them. I felt I could connect with this book not only because I am a parent but also a former child of foster care. The cover of the book alone attracts the reader, due to the dark colors, the water, and the woman sitting staring out causes a sense of mystery and a form of suspense that makes you want to read it.”

Debra Candelora – “Working with Traumatized Children is close to my heart. I have 7 adopted children – all with their own ways to deal with trauma. This has been such a growing experience for our family in understanding how to better support all of their needs. I take every opportunity to educate day care providers, teachers, and especially parents who foster and adopt on this subject. I am intrigued with the effect trauma has on our brains. Understanding the effects doesn’t make this any easier, but it certainly helps us to be more compassionate and not to give up on them.”

Jennifer Rivera – “I am most interested in Saying Goodbye to a Baby. I would like to understand a parent’s point of view while making the decision to give up their children. We often hear the foster parent and adoptive parent’s thoughts on the reason why they foster and adopt but, what makes a biological parent say “this child would be better off with someone else?”” 

Joseph Montalvo – “The book, Working with Traumatized Children, offers insight and competencies for child advocates and professionals but also for the caregivers who have living in their homes children who have been traumatized. It highlights the importance of relationship building, parenting, and the self-awareness needed to promote the healing of these children and their familial system. Fully understanding the unique trauma symptoms that these children’s minds and bodies endure are essential to anyone working or living with children who have been hurt.”

Jinnel D’Hereaux – “Saying Goodbye to a Baby could be a lifeline to saving a birthparent from unforgiving thoughts and separation anxiety. Surrendering your parental rights does not come easy to some, although the focus would be “what’s in the best interest of the child.” The decision is life changing for both parent(s) and child. There is no future to foretell if the outcome of the decisions a birthparent makes are the best, and this could be a great burden of pain throughout their lives. There is grief, pain, anger, anxiety, depression, separation issues, the “not knowing” and there is also shame.  This publication could help impact someone who has or is experiencing a crisis such as this and change their entire view and experience on saying that final goodbye to their baby.”

Their shared words are a great reflection of the caliber of leaders they are and will be.

CWLA is thrilled to celebrate and recognize the excellent work of child welfare staff. We look forward to continuing to help engage and promote child welfare leaders for the future. We also invite our members to pay it forward with agencies in your communities!