Michigan Reunification Day honors families, jurists and family preservation professionals Jacques Short (Samaritas) and Jason Sroufe (Wellspring Lutheran Services)

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Michigan Reunification Day promotes and celebrates the reunification of children with their families and recognizes the many professionals who make it their duty to ensure children are returned safely to their families. Michigan is one of 27 states to hold Reunification Day events. In its fourth year, Michigan Reunification Day is a part of the American Bar Association’s annual Reunification Month celebrations. The ceremony was led by Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement and featured remarks from Justice Megan Kavanagh, MDHHS Children’s Services Agency Director JooYeun Chang, MDHHS Family Preservation and Reunification Program Manager Tracie Kress; presentation of reunified families by Chief Judge Jeffrey Nellis of Mason County Probate Court and Judge Michelle Rick of Clinton/Gratiot County Circuit Court. Among the honorees at the June 20 ceremony at the Hall of Justice: Jacques Short, preservation worker with Samaritas, was awarded the Guy Thompson Worker Achievement Award, and Jason Sroufe, family services division director at Wellspring Lutheran Services, received the Guy Thompson Champion for Reunification Award. Congratulations to Jacques and Jason!

Select quotes from the Jacques Short nomination entry: “It is important for a worker to be personable, empathetic and dedicated to their work and their client(s) for whom services are provided. Mr. Short exemplified all these traits and more when working with this family in reunification services.” “Furthermore, Mr. Short was key in this father initiating the process of filing for custody of his children.” “Mr. Short played an integral role in this family’s reunification, something that would not have been as successful without his involvement.” Photo: Jacques Short of Samaritas and Tracie Kress of MDHHS.

Select quotes from the Jason Sroufe nomination entry: “When working with families, Jason treats them as colleagues, rather than serving as an expert who is telling them what to do. Jason has carried that philosophy through every program he has worked on and with every interaction he has with families as well as staff.” “He is thoughtful about how multiple contracts should work with each other to complement the work of family reunification or extend the impact of family assistance and family support programs.” “Jason has also been leading the way at helping Wellspring identify and address disproportionality within the child welfare system, and he did it starting from family preservation work.” Photo: L-R: Sean de Four, Jason Sroufe, Dave Gehm—all with Wellspring Lutheran Services.

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