Four involved in caring for abused and neglected children have been recognized for their work in Philadelphia.
The 19th annual Children’s Crusader awards were given to those who work directly with children under the supervision of the city’s Department of Human Services or its community umbrella agencies — often called CUAs.
The work is tough, but rewarding, said Cynthia Figueroa, department commissioner.
“Our staff works with some of the hardest to serve, we navigate some of the most dangerous neighborhoods, we solve some of the most complex problems that feel beyond insurmountable,” she said. “It’s all with a common goal of lifting up children, youth, and families so they can live better lives.”
Honoree Stephanie Ali said that when she started in the field, she worried about how long she would survive.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it past the first year,” she said. “The first placement was a tight-knit family, but their resources were very poor. I think I cried more than the mother and the children as they were being separated.”
Social worker Randall Wilson, who was also honored, said it’s become a family business working for the Department of Human Services.
“My aunt got me into this. She said ‘Come on over to DHS,’ ” he said. More than 20 years later, “we stand here together … awesome.”
Figueroa said DHS employees are always fighting to reunite families or find children a permanent, stable home.