Utah Human Services Director Receives National Award for Outstanding Leadership, Improving Lives of Children and Families

Ann Silverberg Williamson, executive director for Utah’s Department of Human Services, has been honored with the national Casey Excellence for Children Leadership Award.

The award was bestowed by Casey Family Programs, the nation’s largest operating foundation focused solely on safely reducing the need for foster care, for Williamson’s work to improve child welfare practice in Utah.

“This recognition is credit to the importance Utah places on the well-being of young lives,” said Williamson. “Promoting safe children, strong families and supportive communities is the right work for today and is important for sustainable outcomes with less negative impact on individuals and less expense to taxpayers.”As executive director of the Utah Department of Human Services since 2013, Williamson is leading a model of care that focuses on in-home services, encourages individual and family participation in their Child & Family Services case plan, assesses early risks and strengths, and leverages community partnerships for sustainable results. Under her administration, Utah operates a federal child welfare demonstration project that is reducing foster care placement, child abuse and neglect incidents and long-term social services intervention. Evidenced by Utah’s results, a bi-partisan bill (Family First Act) by Senator Orrin Hatch and the Senate Finance Committee is in development to make family safety services a funded option. The Act aims to further reduce the expense and trauma of removing children from home when it can be safely avoided.

 Williamson was one of three Casey Leadership Award winners, accompanied by five other family and alumni honorees advancing improvements in child welfare. Award winners are selected from nominees in five categories: birthparents, alumni of foster care, foster or adoptive parents, kinship caregivers and child welfare leaders.

 “It’s our honor to recognize these individuals for their powerful commitment to make life better for the children and families who need it most,” said Bob Watt, chair of the Board of Trustees of Casey Family Programs. “These champions for children are making incredible contributions to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families.”