Maryland’s Department of Human Resources recently held its fifth annual Place Matters awards, recognizing the outstanding efforts of state employees in helping ensure that all Maryland children grow up in safe and loving homes.
The Child Welfare Unit of the Washington County Department of Social Services received three top-performance awards for its work to reduce the number of children placed in out-of-home care and group-home settings.
Place Matters is a statewide initiative focused on reducing the number of children in foster care. The Maryland Department of Human Resources held its fifth annual Place Matters Awards Luncheon Nov. 14 to recognize those jurisdictions that met their annual Place Matters goals and to recognize those that have made marked improvement over the past five years.
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Statewide, since the beginning of Place Matters, almost 3,200 children have found permanent homes through adoption, guardianship or reunification with family, and the number of children in foster care has decreased by 35 percent from 10,330 in 2007 to 6,709 in 2012.
Washington County DSS competed with six other medium-sized Maryland jurisdictions and received five-year improvement awards for the following accomplishments: reducing the number of children in out-of-home care; reducing by the greatest percentage the number of children in care; and decreasing the number of children in group-home settings. The unit also received five awards for meeting the Place Matters goals for 2012.
In response to the awards, Washington County DSS Director, David A. Engle said,
“Washington County will continue to work aggressively to improve outcomes for children by increasing the number of family placements.”
He said the awards are a testament to the compassion, dedication and professionalism that the staff devotes to local child abuse/neglect victims.
Washington County DSS is a field office of the Maryland Department of Human Resources under the direction of Gov. Martin O’Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Secretary Ted Dallas.