I am proud to announce that Gail Merkle, a Hamilton County Children’s Services caseworker, received the Public Children’s Services Association of Ohio’s (PCSAO) Child Protection Worker of the Year Award last week during the association’s conference. The award is given annually to a Children’s Services caseworker in Ohio who shows the ability to develop positive relationships with children and families; shows leadership, initiative, commitment and independency; and is an effective advocate for children and families. Gail was nominated by her supervisor, Natrasha Christian-Beasley, and her section chief, Denise Orchard.
Gail, who has worked as a caseworker in Hamilton County for three years, is a perfect example of an advocate for our agency’s children and families. One specific case where Gail showed compassion and dedication was that of a 2-year-old boy who while in the process of moving towards permanent custody, experienced what was believed to be a seizure. For weeks, his condition changed from day-to-day; he would show periods of recovery and then with no cause, slip backwards. What was once a developmentally-on-target child was changing in front of Gail’s eyes.
Remarkably, each time Gail would visit, the child showed improvement. The doctors and the nurses informed her that the boy’s improvements usually occurred when she was with him. So what does a caseworker do when doctors tell her this about a child, but also knowing she has other families and children who need her help? For Gail, it was a no-brainer. She worked her other cases as before and visited the child every day (sometimes in the early morning or late evening).
“After months of worry and uncertainty, the young boy is now healthy, thanks to the care and concern of Ms. Merkle,” Christian-Beasley wrote in the nomination. “This is just one story that epitomizes Ms. Merkle’s passion for helping others less fortunate and more important, and understanding of her role to advocate on a child’s behalf for their well-being.”
Gail has been a constant in the child’s life and she is doing what any parent/guardian would do. Thank you, Gail, for the hard work and dedication you show towards the agency’s children and families.