Three HHSA social workers were among the honorees at this year’s STARS Awards from the Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council, including Toni Torres, a supervisor in the Indian Specialty Unit in North Region, who won the STARS social worker award.
Veronica Perez-Ramirez from South Region and Neda Rivera from East Region were honored as nominees for a STARS Award.
The STARS Awards are handed out annually and honor efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect and promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families in our community.
Under Torres’ leadership, the Indian Specialty Unit had a 60 percent decrease of removals and children lingering in foster care since 2011. Torres has a reputation of being inclusive in working with all the diverse local tribal agencies and Tribes.
According to her nomination, she conducts her unit in a way that is non-threatening and works with Indian families to build trust and inclusion. Recently retired Appellate Court Judge Thorn recognized her unit for working with Tribal Star and the Public Child Welfare Training Academy (PCWTA).
Perez-Ramirez is the Incredible Families Program South Region liaison is described as friendly, kind, culturally sensitive, collaborative, trauma-informed and a problem solver. She’s often called on by other regions for advice and the schedule she developed for social workers to attend visitations for the program have been adopted by other regions as well.
Rivera specializes in working with immigrant communities and is a recognized leader on issues important to that community. She speaks both Arabic and Chaldean and is works with immigrants to educate them on United States laws and culture.