16th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
For over 26 years, Holly O'Toole has applied a strength-based approach in her work on behalf of Montana's children and families. At the time she began her career with the Child and Family Services Division as a child protection social worker in a rural community, it was the responsibility of rural social workers to “do it all,” i.e., recruit, train, and license foster families; investigate reports of child abuse and neglect; provide reunification services; and facilitate adoptions. Once promoted to the position of Family Resource Special Supervisor, Ms. O'Toole oversaw licensing and adoption services for 17 counties in eastern Montana.
Currently, as Community Social Work Supervisor, Ms. O'Toole supervises staff in seven counties—a staff who respects her knowledge and understanding, welcomes her support and encouragement, and feels motivated by her “can do” attitude. She also has trained many new social workers in their initial phase of training.
Due to the positive support she provides, Ms. O'Toole often is asked to assume additional responsibilities, including the role of acting Regional Administrator. On one occasion, without hesitation and with the grace and a cultural awareness seldom seen, Ms. O'Toole agreed to supervise Child Protection Services on an Indian reservation for several months. Another time, in recognition of her depth of understanding, she was asked to make a presentation on grief and loss, which was videotaped for the purpose of training foster and adoptive parents.
Ms. O'Toole has advanced Child Protection Services statewide with her active participation on numerous teams and committees. At this time, she serves as a member of a Program Improvement Committee, charged with addressing the areas identified as in need of improvement in the Federal Child and Family Services Review.
Holly O'Toole truly extends above and beyond in all her efforts to implement Montana's core values and mission to keep children safe and families strong. For all Montanans, her sense of humor and amazing laugh add the icing to the cake!