15th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
Franklin County Children Services
Maria Lawson, a caseworker and mentor for Franklin County Children's Services, works with adolescent youth and their parents. Typically, she deals with extreme parent-child conflicts, youths who demonstrate unruly and delinquent behavior, as well as the complex treatment plans for these young people with multiple problems and diagnoses.
As the mentor of her unit, Ms. Lawson helps train new workers in addition to managing her large caseload. She provides assistance during crisis situations and, when necessary, assumes a supervisory position.
The signature trait of Ms. Lawson is her ability to develop positive relationships with children and families. Her extremely calm manner enables her to achieve positive results with clients in the face of apathy, hostility, and distrust. She can inherit a case that another worker has not been able to handle and, remarkably, make real progress.
Maria Lawson approaches child protection from the perspective that children do not belong in foster care, treatment centers, or detention facilities. Tireless in her efforts to reunite families or to move older youth into emancipated or independent living situations, she consistently demonstrates initiative. She gives her all to the youth of her caseload. Whether in the courtroom, the school, the office, or the homes of the families she serves, Ms. Lawson presents a most positive public image of a professional in child protection.