2018 Annual Reports
Sharon Fitzgerald – Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
DUTIES: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA’s) are trained to advocate for children in the child welfare system. A CASA develops a relationship with the child he/she advocates for and follows the child’s case to ensure the child receives needed services. The goal is seeing the child placed in a safe, permanent home.
PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Until 2014, Sharon was a resident of northern Baltimore County and taught middle school for the Carroll County Public School system for 20 years. Throughout her career, she encountered very diverse children, families, and situations. Although an advocate for all children, Sharon always found herself drawn to those in need of additional support, academically as well as emotionally.
Sharon has been married for 40 years this May, and she and her husband have one daughter. In 2014, her husband convinced her to retire so that they could move to the Eastern Shore in order to enjoy their transition into their retirement years, but more obviously so that he could pursue his kite boarding hobby! Admittedly, it was a difficult change for Sharon, but she has found her niche, by becoming a CASA volunteer.
BEST PART OF YOUR VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE: Advocating for children in need has always been my mode of operation and knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of children is the most gratifying experience. Meeting and getting to know the children and watching their growth over time when placed within an environment that helps them thrive–seeing them be successful, happy, and enjoying the life they deserve, providing hope, and ultimately the reality of a better future for them is the best part of my volunteer experience.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE FACED: Although I do understand the necessity, I think one of the biggest challenges is dealing with the timetable involved and all the protocols involved in dealing with the court and related agencies.
WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE OTHERS TO KNOW: First, in becoming a CASA, you’re not alone. Initially, you receive in-depth training and, subsequently, continued support throughout your case(s). The CASA team is there to guide you, so never hesitate to address any questions or concerns with them. You don’t have to figure it out on your own!
Second, please know that the time and energy you expend in being an advocate for these children is extremely important and helpful. Do your best to develop relationships with the children and with all collaterals involved and maintain contact with them. Be persistent.
CASA PROGRAM STAFF STATEMENT ABOUT SHARON: Sharon is a passionate, reliable and dedicated CASA volunteer. She communicates regularly with staff and works collaboratively with interested parties toward meeting the best interests of the children she represents. She is an organized and excellent reporter of critical information to the court. She serves her position with a pleasant calmness and openness and takes an unbiased approach to her investigative work and reporting. Sharon cares deeply for the children she represents but maintains appropriate boundaries. In her time as a CASA volunteer, Sharon’s case has been dealt many difficult situations, all of which she has handled and overcome with grace. She truly goes above and beyond in advocating for the children she serves. We are so very fortunate to have Sharon on the Lower Shore CASA team!
Join us on Tuesday, April 16th from 4-8:30pm at Fins Ale House & Raw Bar in Berlin. During that time period, Fins will donate 20% of total sales to WYFCS. When dining in, please mention this to your server! Dine in only.
Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) welcomed Tiffany Scott on January 22nd as their new Youth Programs Coordinator. The Youth Programs Coordinator oversees programming for adolescent programs and the Berlin Youth Club (BYC). Strengthening Adolescent Boys with Education and Resources (SABERS) is a support program for boys in 7th and 8th grade. The Berlin Youth Club (BYC) is for youth ages 6-11 who reside in the town of Berlin. The Youth Programs Coordinator organizes cultural, educational, and social activities for the youth throughout the year. The Coordinator also organizes youth activities for various town events and manages a volunteer corps to help with youth activities.
Tiffany comes to WYFCS from the Worcester County Health Department where she worked as a Community Health Outreach Worker in their Patient Centered Home Program. From this experience, she developed her love for public health and helping others. In 2017, Tiffany took on the role of a Community Health Educator with WCHD’s Chronic Disease and Tobacco Prevention Team. During her time with prevention as the Healthiest Maryland Business/ Worksite Wellness Coordinator, Tiffany was able to further her passion for holistic health and wellness through community partnerships. Tiffany is also a CDC-Certified Diabetes Prevention Coach and enjoys empowering participants to become their best self through nutrition and physical activity.
Tiffany earned her bachelor’s Degree from Salisbury University in 2015 with an area of concentration in Community Health and Health Education. Currently, she is a full-time student at Maryland University of Integrative Health working toward her dream of becoming a Certified Clinical Nutritionist. Tiffany plans to one day build on her work within the community to create a healthier community through the power of nutrition.
For more information about youth programs, please call our office at 410-641-4598.
On Wednesday, December 6, WYFCS received two grants that will expand access to mental healthcare in the region. The Maryland Community Health Resources Commission and the The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. contributed $125,000 each to support service expansion at WYFCS. The grants will enable WYFCS to hire two clinicians to provide mental health services. Our agency can’t thank these two phenomenal organizations enough for their support!
WYFCS is recruiting volunteers for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). A CASA volunteer, is a court-appointed, trained, and committed adult who represents and advocates for a child’s best interest in the child protection system. By becoming a CASA volunteer, you can help keep abused and neglected children safe, giving them a chance at finding happiness. If interested, please contact Brigitte Southworth at 410-641-4598.
Worcester Youth and Family is proud to receive the Non-Profit of the Year Award through the Greater Ocean City, Maryland Chamber of Commerce! WYFCS has been serving the community since 1975 and we continually strive to increase awareness about mental health and make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. Thank you everybody for the support!
WYFCS has been nominated by Senator Chris Van Hollen and named one of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) Angels in Adoption honorees. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes and to eliminating the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right to a family. Each year, the Angels in Adoption program honor a wide spectrum of individuals and organizations making extraordinary contributions to adoption, permanency and child welfare.
Congratulations to Dr. Jen, Psy.D. on receiving the Coastal Style Best Of Award for Psychologist! Dr. Jen has been practicing for over 20 years and has been with WYFCS for the past 9 years. WYFCS and the community is lucky to have her as she is both an expert in the profession and an amazing Clinical Director. Thank you Dr. Jen for all that you do!