Portage County professional named Mary Ellen Social Worker of the Year
Brittany Edwards honored for her work to help local children by Ohio CASA/GAL Association at 28th Annual Celebrate Kids! Conference in Columbus
Brittany Edwards was named Ohio’s “2023 Mary Ellen Social Worker of the Year” by the Ohio CASA/GAL Association at its 28th Annual Celebrate Kids! Conference September 21st.
Over 600 child welfare advocates from across Ohio gathered in Columbus for the three-day conference featuring training and discussions.
“It is surreal to be named the Mary Ellen Social Worker of the Year for Ohio. It has been a learning experience. I feel incredibly blessed,” said Edwards.
Edwards was named Social Worker of the Year for her dedication to helping local children in need and for her collaboration with the Portage County CASA program. Court staff and CASA volunteers say that children’s lives have been improved thanks to Edwards’ involvement.
For example, she had a case where a mother was working to complete her case plan and reunify with her child. Edwards and the CASA volunteer communicated diligently and shared encouraging words with the mother for her efforts.
“I believe this case ended in this family reunifying, in large part from this skillful collaboration between Brittany, the parent and the CASA volunteer,” said Erin Grohe, Portage County CASA Volunteer Coordinator.
The CASA program is new in Portage County and from its inception, Edwards was collaborative and welcoming with CASA volunteers and court staff.
“Brittany is a great communicator and understands how beneficial a good working partnership with CASA can be for the children we all serve. She puts the child first in her cases,” said Ann Walden, CASA of Portage County Executive Director.
With over 16,000 children in foster care in Ohio at any given time, dedicated CASA volunteers and social workers are more essential than ever.
This award is named in honor of Mary Ellen Wilson, who was the victim in what is considered the first case of child abuse in U.S. history to go to trial in 1874.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers are appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in the court system. These volunteers are community members of all walks of life who commit to engage in the court system and directly help children who are experiencing abuse and neglect.
CASA volunteers serve children in 60 Ohio counties, an all-time high, just like attendance at this conference. Overall, there are 47 CASA/GAL (Guardian ad litem) programs serving nearly 10,000 children in Ohio annually.