We change the world, one child at a time.


It Takes a Village…or One Collaborative Team

Recipients of the Permanency Teamwork Award at the 2023 Annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference.

By Rachel Paashaus, LSW, PAE Coordinator

United in its vision for permanency, a seven-person team was honored for its collaborative efforts in helping provide stability to a child in foster care at the June 2023 Annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference. “Everyone worked together to achieve one common goal: to help children find their forever families,” observed Sara Sweitzer, adoption caseworker with Berks County Children and Youth Services. The team’s members also included Sara’s colleagues at Berks County Children and Youth Services, Yileine Caolo and Christine Esterly; Nicole Gardecki and Amy Silfies with SWAN affiliate agency, KidsPeace; Ashley Esposito, Guardian Ad Litem; and Kristina Kulp with SWAN affiliate agency, Diakon Adoption and Foster Care.

In addition to a focus on permanency, the team’s commitment to respecting differences was a key component of its success. Respect was accompanied by listening, creative problem solving, innovation and each team member’s underlying passion to help children and families. These values set the tempo and helped keep members in step with each other. “Always share your thoughts, questions, or concerns with team members because each individual’s perspective on a situation can play a key role in finding solutions,” Kristina offered. “We each have a valuable skill set that when combined with others, creates a remarkable outcome.”

This was the first time attending the awards banquet for some of the team members, and the atmosphere was inspiring and grounding. Permanency worker Nicole Gardecki reflected, “Each of the stories and awards distributed gave me a chance to see the work we do from a different lens.” Some of the team were able to bring along family members and friends to bear witness to this professional honor. Amy Silfies shared, “It meant a lot to me for my daughters to see the impact of the work I do on a daily basis. As they are becoming young women, I hope this experience provides them with a positive example of how our careers can make a difference.” 

Thank you and congratulations to this team and the many other network professionals who are helping create remarkable outcomes each and every day.


Published: Dec. 13, 2023

Next: The Power of Saying Yes: How one Woman Re-defined Foster Care for Older Youth

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