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“I have always felt honored to do my job, to be with families at a troubling time point in their life.
I imagine it is the same for everyone.”
– Alissa Heil


ALUMNI NEWS

Alissa Heil

Alissa Heil (BSFCS '08, MSW '11); photo courtesy Robbie Schwartz, The Walton Tribune

One of many difference makers

DFCS Caseworker of the Year touches lives in Walton County

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
by Robbie Schwartz, managing editor
robbie.schwartz@waltontribune.com
The Walton Tribune, reprinted with permission

Monroe, Ga. — Alissa Heil has been with the Walton County Department of Family and Children Services for almost three years. But in that time, her impact has been felt so that she was selected from more than 1,600 caseworkers statewide as the DFCS Caseworker of the Year.

She was recognized earlier this month during the Walton County Board of Commissioners' monthly meeting.

“I am very honored but at the same time I don’t get it,” Heil said during an interview between sessions of court Monday. “I feel like I am just doing my job. I have always felt honored to do my job, to be with families at a troubling time point in their life. I imagine it is the same for everyone.”

A transplant from Chicago, Heil followed in her father’s footsteps as well as her brother’s in attending the University of Georgia, where she received both her undergraduate and master’s degree.

She interned with DFCS offices in Barrow, Clarke and Walton, opting to begin her career here and recently was promoted to supervisor. Her caseload averages 15-20 cases at any given point in time, and has peaked at 38 during her tenure.

Beginning this year Heil’s focus has been more on adoptions but still has obligations for such tough tasks as terminating a parent’s rights and making sure parents are in compliance with any planned course of action required to maintain custody of their child or children.

“The primary thing for me is not taking ‘no’ for an answer, assessing what is behind the ‘no’ in a given situation and pushing through that, getting to know the children and the parents,” Heil said. “A lot of caseworkers treat the child like it is their own. They may buy the child something they really want knowing you are the only person they have in their life right now. A lot of caseworkers put their heart and life into this.”

Walton County DFCS Director Hanna Rule said it is hard to condense what made her want to nominate Heil for the honor, saying while the phrase if often overused, her employee really does go “above and beyond” with every child and family.

“I chose to nominate Alissa for this award to recognize her unique dedication to the children, birth families and foster and adoptive families that she serves,” Rule said. “Alissa creates a ‘specialized team’ for each child on her caseload by connecting everyone in the child’s life with one another. She pulls together the birth family members, the foster parents, the school, the therapists, and any other important partners to create and execute the best possible plan for each child on her caseload — just like we do for our own birth children.

“When Alissa talks about the children, birth parents and foster and adoptive parents on her caseload, it’s obvious that she’s taken the time to get to know each of them as real people — not just as names on her caseload.

“Some people might say that Alissa takes her job way too seriously, but I think that’s what makes her so amazing — that she recognizes how serious her job is and how much she positively impacts children and families each day.”