Saint Francis staff recognized for contributions to child welfare

One of the reasons that Saint Francis Ministries has remained a leader in the field of child and family welfare for more than 78 years is the expertise and skill our people bring to the table. Across the field, Saint Francis staff are regularly recognized for their research, innovation, advocacy, and contributions to advancing the care of children and families.

This became especially evident when two recently retired, long-term members of the Saint Francis team received important attention for their work.

Pamela Cornwell, SFM’s former clinical services director of trauma practices, was recently honored at the 47th Annual Governor’s Conference for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect in Kansas for her work on developing clinical strategies related to chronic stress and trauma. Pam retired in August after a 30-year career in child welfare, 11 of which were spent at Saint Francis.

While at SFM, she chaired the Trauma Informed Care Committee, addressing staff secondary trauma, providing trauma training, and assessing trauma in children. She consulted with community partners in child welfare, working closely with social workers, parents, and caregivers to address trauma-related behaviors.

Over the last three decades, Pam has worked with multi-generational families, elderly abuse survivors, and children in child welfare. She has also been involved in program start-ups and holds certifications in various therapeutic models.

“As a member of the Governor’s Conference Planning Committee, we are tasked with nominating individuals and organizations who have displayed exemplary work in child abuse prevention that has had a state-wide impact on children and families in Kansas,” said Christy Sanders, director of training. “When thinking about my co-workers who have had such an impact, Pam naturally came to mind since she has always been a role model to me, has worked with multiple children, families, and organizations, and honestly deserves an award for all she has accomplished in her career.”

Cornwell received the Governor’s Conference Overall Conference Award on October 19 in Wichita for her contribution to child welfare in Kansas. Sponsored by the Kansas Children’s Service League, the annual Governor’s Conference features more than 20 co-sponsoring organizations and is the most comprehensive conference in Kansas about the prevention of child maltreatment.

Cheryl Rathbun, SFM’s former chief clinical officer, was honored at KVC Health Systems’ 2023 Annual Celebration last month, at the Ball Event Center in Olathe, Kansas. Cheryl retired in July after a 45-year career in child welfare, spent almost entirely as a clinician with Saint Francis.

Throughout her career, Cheryl advocated for system level change – from starting the first adolescent inpatient sexual abuse program to training other service providers how to treat adolescent sexual abuse. During her career, she’s appeared on television forums; participated in the development and implementation of PRTF standards in Kansas; influenced development of Joint Commission standards for Foster Care homes, adoption and case management through an advisory committee; served on a task forces for the development and implementation of the privatized KanCare in Kansas and national standards in Child Welfare League of America; and authored multiple articles on the treatment of adolescent males.

KVC hosts the event each year to recognize individuals and organizations who have embodied the organization’s values. Cheryl received the KVC Values-Driven Partner Award, as representative of the value: “Our character is built on authenticity & compassion.”

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award than Cheryl,” said Holly Dean-Osborne, Kansas vice president of permanency. “Her 45-year career at Saint Francis and in Kansas child welfare has embodied authenticity and compassion. For Cheryl, it was never a job; it was her calling, and she was great at it. I feel so fortunate to have had the privilege to learn and be mentored by one of the very best. Her legacy will live on for years to come.”

Picture of Shane Schneider
Shane Schneider

Shane is the Editorial Content Manager for the Marketing and Communications Department at Saint Francis Ministries.

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