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Ellis County awards 19 with ‘a piece of the puzzle’

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County passes down honors for service to at-risk kids
SHERRY LONG
The Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE - People and organizations who dedicate their lives to ending child abuse were honored during a special ceremony Monday night.

Ellis County was one of only three counties nation-wide to be recognized for developing a program designed to move children through from the foster care system into a permanent home much sooner.

An early invention program was developed through the Judge Bob Carroll's County Court at Law No. 1 where local nonprofit agencies

worked together making sure children involved in child protective services rights were properly represented in an expedited measure.

Ellis County was awarded the 2006 County Courthouse Award from the National Association of Counties for the county's Early Intervention Services.

Every year NACo presents awards at the rural, suburban or urban level. Ellis County was recognized as this year's suburban recipient.

'To have a reputation that we think so highly of our kids - I can't think of a better reputation,' said Ellis County Judge Chad Adams noting the county would not have received the award without the dedication and hard work of the numerous nonprofit organizations.

'What we do here in terms of taking care of abused and neglected children is far superior to what is accomplished in other counties,' said Adams. 'And we are able to do this because of the amazing spirit of teamwork and cooperation that exists in Ellis County.'

Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie and chairman of the house appropriations committee, said the state spends an average of $1,630 per month for each child in foster care, so it was very important that Ellis County's early intervention system was working to save taxpayer's money.

Pitts said an estimated 18,500 kids were in foster care on a monthly basis.

'Our county has implemented a program to unite children with people who will love them, protect them and provide a safe environment,' Pitts said.

'But the truly awesome thing is the impact on the lives of our children.'

Each award was cut as a puzzle piece with Adams saying children would not be helped properly if all the agencies did not work as well as they do together - like all the pieces of a puzzle coming together.

Awards were presented to Child Protective Services, Gingerbread House (a children's advocacy center); ADAPT Mental Health, Texas Baptist Children's Home, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Ellis County Foster Parents Association, Presbyterian Children's Home, Child Welfare Board, and various mediators, attorneys and counselors.

Realizing without the local media there would be fewer volunteers and people receiving services from the nonprofit organizations, awards were also presented to The Ellis County Press, Ennis Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light and KBEC Radio.

'The Ellis County Press is a bold voice in our county, dedicated to informing the public, unafraid to ask questions that get right to the heart of any issue and proud to stand up for what they believe in,' said Carroll, who presented a piece-of-the-puzzle plaque to each organization.

'(Publisher) Sheila Hatfield is a true advocate for the underdog, including the abused and neglected children that we serve.'

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