So­cial Ser­vices di­rec­tor an­nounces re­tire­ment

Record Observer - - News - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­

CENTREVILLE — Since 2008, Cathy Dougherty has served as the di­rec­tor of Queen Anne’s County Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices. Doughterty re­cently an­nounced her re­tire­ment from state ser­vice ef­fec­tive March 31, 2016. Su­san Cop­page, cur­rent as­sis­tant to the di­rec­tor, will serve as in­terim di­rec­tor.

Dougherty, who re­sides on Kent Is­land, has been a so­cial worker for 39 years. Through the course of her work, Dougherty has touched the lives of many chil­dren in the state of Mary­land. The staff at the Queen Anne’s So­cial Ser­vices said they will miss Dougherty greatly, but wish her all the best in this next stage of her life. Dougherty, who has been work­ing with Cop­page to ease the transi- tion, said she feels com­fort­able that all will be fine in the depart­ment when she is re­tired and she is con­fi­dent that the depart­ment will con­tinue to run smoothly in her ab­sence.

A na­tive of Har­ford County, Dougherty grad­u­ated from Sal­is­bury Univer­sity in 1977 with a Bach­e­lor’s de­gree in So­cial Work. Dougherty be­gan her ca­reer in so­cial work in Cam­bridge, work­ing un­der a fed­eral Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice grant to help pre­vent ju­ve­nile delin­quency. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing her Mas­ter’s in So­cial Work she re­turned to Har­ford County Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices as a child pro­tec­tive ser­vices so­cial worker do­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions and pro­vid­ing con­tin­u­ing child pro­tec­tive ser­vices. In 1989, she trans­ferred to Bal­ti­more County DSS where she con­tin­ued as a CPS So­cial Worker in a spe­cial­ized sex­ual abuse unit that even­tu­ally be­came the Bal­ti­more County Child Ad­vo­cacy Cen­ter.

Dougherty served in a su- per­vi­sory ca­pac­ity for Bal­ti­more County DSS and as­sisted in the ini­tial set up of the Child Ad­vo­cacy Cen­ter in Har­ford County. Dougherty first came to Queen Anne’s County in 1999 as a Su­per­vi­sor of Child and Adult Pro­tec­tion Ser­vices and Adult Ser­vice pro­grams with QACDSS. She con­tin­ued in that ca­pac­ity un­til 2003 when she was promoted to as­sis­tant di­rec­tor for ser­vices, re­main­ing in that po­si­tion un­til 2008 when she served as act­ing di­rec­tor and even­tu­ally was promoted to di­rec­tor in 2009.

For Dougherty, she said her most re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ences were some of her orig­i­nal child pro­tec­tive as­sign­ments.

“These are sit­u­a­tions you’ve never dreamed of, cases of child rape and mur­der, more like the pages of a book than real life,” said Dougherty. “Many times I felt more like a de­tec­tive than a so­cial worker.”

Be­ing able to work closely with law en­force­ment and help­ing make the best pos­si­ble out­come for the child is what con­tin­ued to drive me, Dougherty said.

Al­though chal­leng­ing at times, it was im­por­tant to be able to rec­og­nize the dif­fer­ence be­tween good and evil and make that judge­ment call, she added. There are un­for­tu­nately some very evil peo­ple out there, said Dougherty, and you don’t ever want to see the two mixed up.

So­cial work is driven in part by pa­ram­e­ters set forth by the court, but there is ef­fort that goes into re­hab­bing the par­ents and re­unit­ing them with their chil­dren when it is pos­si­ble to do so while still main­tain­ing the safety of the child, said Dougherty, adding, “Some­times this is a very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make.”

The Queen Anne’s County Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices also of­fers pub­lic as­sis­tance to adults and el­ders suf­fer­ing abuse or who have fallen on hard times, said Dougherty.

“We live now in a cri­sisori­ented world,” she said.

As for trends that Dougherty has no­ticed dur­ing her time serv­ing Queen Anne’s County, she noted the in­crease in ba­bies born to moth­ers in the county that are born with drug ex­po­sure. The num­bers are roughly 10 times now, what they were five years ago. Dougherty said she holds re­spon­si­ble the heroin epi­demic. Heroin is a drug that knows no bound­aries, she said. “We see in­di­vid­u­als of ev­ery race and eco­nomic stand­ing be­ing af­fected by this life al­ter­ing drug.”

Dougherty ques­tioned why so­ci­ety now has a greater in­flu­ence over in­di­vid­u­als than their fam­ily.

Dougherty, who has been ac­tively in­volved with the Queen Anne’s County Child Abuse Re­sponse and Eval­u­a­tion Cen­ter as a so­cial worker, said she plans to re­main in­volved and sup­port the or­ga­ni­za­tion with fundrais­ing ef­forts. CARE is a multi-dis­ci­plinary child ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion that as­sists chil­dren in need in cri­sis sit­u­a­tions. The pro­gram is grant funded and re­lies on vol­un­teers and fundrais­ing.

Dougherty said a quar­ter auc­tion to ben­e­fit the Child Ad­vo­cacy Cen­ter is planned for Fri­day, April 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the Ruths­burg Com­mu­nity Cen­ter. Food, in­clud­ing crab cake slid­ers, wine and beer will be avail­able for sale. Ven­dors in­clude Thir­ty­one, Per­fectly Posh, Lu­laRoe and Car­rie Sue Cup­cak­ery among oth­ers. For more de­tails, con­tact 410-758-2533.


Di­rec­tor of Queen Anne’s County Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices, Cathy Dougherty an­nounces her re­tire­ment.

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