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My name is Trista Bearden and I am a Casework
Supervisor at Lorain County Children Services (LCCS). I am a resident of Lorain County
and a parent. I have been employed by Children Services for almost six years. I
wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do seven years ago when I graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College with a bachelor’s degree. I
worked briefly as a private investigator before being offered a job at Children
Services. I had an awareness of the issues involving child abuse and neglect in
our county, as I had served as a guardian ad litem for three years. Ultimately,
I took a job as a protective services caseworker. After two years, I went on to
get my master’s degree from Case Western Reserve University.

During my six years of employment, I have
seen a number of staff come and go. I can honestly say I have never met a staff
member at Children Services who has come with the intention of doing anything
less than their best. Being a child protective worker is a job where the
telephone becomes an extension of the worker’s body, the automobile becomes an
office and sometimes a sanctuary, and paperwork becomes as overwhelming as
climbing Mount Everest. And yes, it is hard,
it is stressful, and it is painful at times. I have walked into a child’s home
where there was no food, no electricity, no running water, and the roaches had
the run of the house. I have gone to the drug store to purchase a lice kit and
showed a parent how to use it. I have begged to have a family put on the top of
the waiting list for housing. I have bargained with a utility company to avoid
having a family get their gas shut off in the middle of winter. I have sat with
a family for hours in a clinic waiting for the doctor to see their child. I
have visited emergency rooms and viewed the broken bones and the bruises. I am
not alone.

I have been awakened at midnight to go to a
police station to pick up children who had no place to go because their mother
had just gotten arrested for drug abuse. I have sat through a child’s painful
disclosure that her father raped her repeatedly for the past five years. I have
driven a mother and her two children to a safe haven after her boyfriend gave
her a black eye and busted lip and I watched while she returned to him two weeks
later without her children. I have testified in court that it would be in
children’s best interest to have their parent’s rights severed forever. I am
not alone.

I have held countless children in my arms
from birth through eighteen years old. I have cried with them and I have cried
for them and they have each touched me in some way. And, when the tears were
all gone, I have laid my head on my desk in sheer exhaustion before lifting it
to start again. I have had days when I left work early because the stress
became overwhelming and I have returned the next day to start again. I am not

I have been told countless times “I
could never do your job” and “it must be depressing.” Why do I
do it? I love it. I love that on Monday’s at 10:00 AM in Judge Horvath’s
courtroom, I get the pleasure of sharing in the moment that a family comes
together through adoption and a child has a permanent home. I love that at
Christmas, I get to share in the delight of delivering our community’s generous
donation of gifts to our families and children. I love that every now and then
I get a school picture in the mail of a child I had closed on my caseload a few
years ago, with a note from their mom about how well they are doing. I am not

I love working with families and children.
Our families are interesting, resourceful, and diverse. Our children are
beautiful, bright, and sensitive. I am blessed to have the opportunity to work
with a staff comprised of dedicated, caring, and committed people. I am not

I do it because I believe in our agency. I
believe in our mission. I believe we provide quality services to children and
families. I believe we are an agency that welcomes others to evaluate our
services, to critique our professionalism and to teach us how to do it better.
I believe we are an agency that will always be committed to doing the right
things right, the first time, on time, every time, one child at a time. I am
not alone.

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