On October 13, the Chief Probation Officer of the Orange County Probation Department, Steven J. Sentman, presented the 2015 Chief’s Awards to a team from Phoenix House Wraparound Services: Lauri Romero (Supervisor), Diana Rodriguez (Care Coordinator), Michael Boyd (Youth Partner), and Kiana Larsen (Parent Partner). Lauri Romero accepted the award on behalf of Michael Boyd who is now serving with the U.S. Marines.
The award honors excellence and dedication in service to youth and families and is designed to recognize Probation staff and volunteers for “contributions that the honored individuals and teams make in supporting the department,” says Chief Sentman. The Phoenix House Wraparound team was honored alongside Probation Officers who were all involved in a poignant case. Following the death of a single parent, the grieving children (including one enrolled in Wraparound Services under Probation supervision) were in danger of being separated among different foster homes and, in the case of the youth under Probation supervision, in juvenile hall. But thanks to the efforts of the Wraparound team, a family placement was identified so that the children could stay together, strengthening their family bonds and providing a safe foundation for the future. Chris Bieber, Chief Deputy Probation Officer of Field Operations, said “Deputy Probation Officer Earlene Bozanich and other Probation and Wraparound staff stayed past business hours and worked tirelessly towards a suitable solution. The children were overwhelmed with emotion to see how each member of this team cared for their well being. With the help of Probation and Wraparound staff this transition has been a smooth one.”
Cory Brosch, Director of the Phoenix House Wraparound Program, said: “This award symbolizes what Wraparound is and the level of quality that our services represent. This does not happen overnight; it took five years since the program’s inception to create systems and communication channels that resulted in such seamless collaboration among staff, family members, and agency representatives. We were very surprised when we were notified about this award as we deal with similar crisis situations every day: this was not even our most complicated case! It felt unusual to be recognized for what we ordinarily do, for what Wraparound is.”
Team members discussed their individual roles and motivation to help the family in crisis. Diana, the Care Coordinator, described her countless hours over the phone, talking with the family, probation officers, and staff from other agencies, and taking care of the necessary paperwork; Michael, the Youth Partner, listened to the youth and ensured a strong professional bond based on trust and respect; while Kiana, the Parent Partner, dealt with the distressed children and formerly estranged relatives in discovering a new family. “Our focus is on the family’s ‘voice and choice’ and the best interest of the children. It was clear that a family placement and keeping them together was what they needed after such a tremendous loss. There were many administrative hurdles to overcome, but the dedication and focus of our team brought the desired result,” Supervisor Lauri Romero concluded.
Phoenix House Wraparound Team will continue working with the family until the youth graduates from the program and the family is strong enough to face the challenges of life together.