- Special Sections
- Public Notices
When it comes to preserving a family at risk of being separated, Stephanie Harrison is ready to help.
Harrison is director of Intensive Family Preservation Services/Community Collaboration for Children in Elizabethtown. Its programs serve the eight-county Lincoln Trail District.
“We do prevent children from being taken from homes,” Harrison said.
Clients are families referred by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services that have been assessed as being at risk of being separated for any number of issues including neglect and abuse.
“Those are typically the cases that we get,” Harrison said. “A lot of those cases are in family court.”
Cases undertaken by IFPS/CCC are assessed to be potential instances in which the child could be taken out of the home environment if no assistance is provided.
“The cabinet has their own assessment that they do,” Harrison said.
The program is generally part of a family’s case plan, she said.
“It is a voluntary program,” Harrison said.
Each high-risk family undergoes an intensive six-week program that includes training in parenting skills. The program also includes family team meetings in which family members discuss what would be best for the family.
The IFPS/CCC office reports to the cabinet.
“We work really closely with that referring cabinet worker,” Harrison said.
Melissa Davis, assistant director, said Harrison is a supportive director who is “very devoted” to her work.
“I feel that Stephanie believes in every client that we serve,” Davis said.
Ultimately the goal of IFPS is to maintain children in their homes as safely as possible and to maintain the family when possible, she said. The program helps prevent placement of children in foster homes, which can be costly and have negative effects on the children, Harrison said.
Starting out in the program as an in-home worker, Harrison has seen the program grow.
“I came to (IFPS) in 1995,” she said. “There were only three of us here.”
The program now has 12 workers, Harrison said.
“Every single worker in this office has respect for what they do,” Harrison said. “They have respect for their clients.”
Harrison’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed by co-workers, either.
Davis called Harrison a “role model” in her work and as a wife and mother.
“She is the epitome of what Wednesday’s Woman represents,” she said.
In addition to her work as director, Harrison is active in her church, St. Monica Parish, Davis said. Harrison helps with picnics, festivals, first Communions and confirmations, among other things, the assistant director said. She called Harrison “an amazing woman.”
“She’s very inspirational and she’s an awesome motivator,” Davis said.
Marilyn Keene, St. Monica Parish secretary, said Harrison was a catechetical leader and was involved in the educational program for elementary school students as well as assisting with festivals and church events.
“I would describe Stephanie as generous and caring and just unselfish with herself and her time,” Keene said.
Following a stint as an in-home worker Harrison became an assistant supervisor. In 2001, Harrison became a social services clinician with the cabinet, an experience she said gave her the opportunity to see cases from both sides.
“I learned so much,” she said. “I would never trade that.”
Harrison returned to IFPS/CCC in 2006 and became regional network coordinator for CCC, a position she still holds.
“I became director (of IFPS) in January 2009,” she said.
With the current economic slump, funding constraints make things more and more difficult. IFPS/CCC are grant-based programs.
“I think the toughest part is wanting to do so much, and there are limits,” Harrison said. “There’s only so much I can do.”
In some cases, Harrison refers clients to other agencies that might be helpful. She said she enjoys collaborating with other agencies.
Likewise, she enjoys the interaction she has with her staff, family and other community partners.
“There’s nothing, really, that I don’t enjoy about my job,” she said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or email@example.com.
MORE ABOUT STEPHANIE HARRISON:
Town of residence: Bardstown
Family: Husband, Raymond, and two boys, ages 10 and 13.
Favorite music: R & B.
Favorite TV: Reality shows, specifically the “Real Housewives” series, which she calls her “guilty pleasure.”
Favorite authors: Terry McMillen, Maya Angelou.
Hobbies/leisure: Spending time with family.