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Protecting the children

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HONESDALE, PA — Wayne County honored the people who care for some of its most vulnerable residents on June 6, with the commissioners’ proclamation of the first week in June as Child Welfare Professionals Appreciation Week.

The final lines of that proclamation reveal the importance of the work of Wayne County’s Children and Youth Services (CYS) staff noting, “Innumerable injuries and deaths of children in Wayne County have been averted due to the efforts of Wayne County Children and Youth Services.”

CYS Executive Director Rozalyn Burke reported that the 51 agency staffers served an average of 392 children (179 families) monthly this last year, through work including investigations and intake assessments, on-going in-home services, placement, independent living and adoption assistance. “I consider all positions within CYS to be child welfare professionals, as it is a team effort to accomplish the agency’s mission and goals,” Burke said.

The proclamation noted that their work “may require [children and youth workers] to enter into situations in which their personal safety may be put at risk… every year child welfare professionals are injured or killed in their pursuit to protect children.”

“I am humbled and honored to direct the caring and selfless individuals who have chosen child welfare as their profession,” Burke said. “I know I may be biased, but in my eyes, they have one of the hardest and most important jobs in our society, to protect and ensure the safety and well-being of children.”

The commissioners agreed. Wendell Kay, who has in the past worked with the agency regularly as an attorney, noted that Burke is only the third executive director that the agency has had since 1980.

“That indicates real leadership at the top, in times when you are facing more difficult situations than those I wrestled with 12 years ago,” he said. “It’s not a job for everyone.”

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