‘Serving Our Most Vulnerable Citizens’: Dauphin County Commissioners Honor Children & Youth Caseworkers

Social Work Group 2021 SMALL CROP

The Dauphin County Commissioners recognized county social workers this week for their work overcoming COVID-19 pandemic restrictions to keep children safe.

The Board of Commissioners awarded two Children & Youth Services “Caseworkers of the Year” – Amber Hess and Susan Updegraff – and recognized three finalists for the award.

“I don’t know if there is a more important job,” County Commissioner George P. Hartwick III said at the public meeting.

Commissioner Hartwick said social work is often a thankless profession that involves highly emotional situations and public scrutiny.

While some areas saw a dip in referrals and investigations during the pandemic, Dauphin County Children & Youth Services actually fielded more calls – 28 percent more than the previous year.

“You didn’t miss a beat” during the pandemic, Commissioner Hartwick said.

CYS Director Marisa McClellan said the past year brought unprecedented challenges, with caseworkers handling their usual domestic difficulties along with safety concerns presented by the pandemic.

“They performed in severely trying, emotional situations,” McClellan said at the meeting.

The Board of Commissioners also presented McClellan with a proclamation for Social Work Month (March).

Commissioner Chair Jeff Haste said such an honor should be for several months, considering all the challenges overcome in the past year.

“These caseworkers dealt with and overcame struggles – caring for the children involved, but also their own wellbeing during home visits and investigations,” Commissioner Chair Haste said.

Caseworkers Hess and Updegraff accepted their honors at the public meeting. Caseworkers Mackenzie Luce, Amanda McIlhenny and Rebecca Yost were recognized as finalists for the award.

“These vital employees do their jobs and never ask for or seek praise; their concerns are for safe placement and care for our children,” Commissioner Mike Pries said.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett Hambright, Press Secretary, 717-780-6311; bhambright@dauphinc.org.