Meet the Southeast Management Team
The SERO Team, left to right: Jeannie Arledge, Sharon Fleming, Susie Kollar.
By Sharon Fleming, PSM II
The Southeast Regional Office team consists of Susie Kollar, Administrative Officer; Jeannie Arledge, Protective Services Manager I; and Sharon Fleming, Protective Services Manager II. We are a relatively new management team and are pleased to be working with such skilled and talented staff throughout Southeast Alaska.
While we are a new team, we have been successful in some very critical areas, especially in the past year. As a region, we have maintained our case worker visits since December of 2012 at over 90 percent each month, with one exception. This is a huge accomplishment, and we are very proud of our Family Services staff for this. We have also celebrated having one of the highest, if not the highest, rates of initiating our initial assessments for just as many months. We are dedicated to child safety whether children reside in their home or in foster care, as these measures indicate.
Within the last year, we have changed some job descriptions to help us achieve our goals. We created an adoption worker position that focuses solely on finding “forever homes” for children who are legally free for adoption. Since October of 2012, we have finalized 25 adoptions. We have eight adoptions currently in negotiation, and seven homes that are ready for home studies to begin.
In addition to this position, we relocated the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Specialist position to Juneau. Southeast Alaska OCS is lucky to have a regional adoption specialist who does all of the region’s administrative reviews so we can use the ICWA Specialist position to focus on ICWA compliance. We have recently begun our out-of-preference placement meetings again with local tribes. While these have been slow to get going, there is a lot of interest in placing Native children with relatives, so we keep working towards this goal with our tribal partners. Additionally, we are meeting monthly to talk about ICWA issues. These talks have generated a lot of great discussion among staff, and we continue to grow in our understanding of, and compliance with, the Indian Child Welfare Act.
On the administrative side, SERO has the highest Title IV-E penetration rate in the state, thanks to our amazing Eligibility Technician who also assists other regions with a smile when duty calls.
We are changing the way we recruit our staff so we are sure to find the best fit for this very challenging job. We are using some models that other states have used successfully in the hopes that our worker retention rates will increase. Our workers and supervisors are our most valuable asset we have, as they are in homes every day assuring child safety and strengthening families. They rely upon the strong support of our outstanding clerical staff, our licensing unit, our exceptional mental health unit, our administrative staff and our Social Services Associates, all of whom keep the wheels in motion so workers can do their very important job. We cannot thank all of the staff in Southeast enough for their continued dedication to children and families. We salute them.