Meet the changing faces of child welfare in Shelby County

Published 10:04 am Monday, May 13, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Special to the Reporter | Beth Chapman

The faces of child welfare in Shelby County have changed according to Juvenile Judge Erin Welborn. She will intersect with four new child advocate directors on some of the more than 2,500 cases she has in her courtroom.

There are four new directors of non-profit organizations in Shelby County including the new director of the Owens House Laurel Teel, the DHR Director Ahzshaka Johnson, DAY Program Director Lucy Mosley and Family Connection Director Jennifer Ellison. The judge herself is relatively new, just completing her 15th month in her elected position.

“With new faces come new ideas, new energy, new beginnings and new opportunities for growth,” Welborn said. “The previous directors did a fine job building foundations, now the new directors will be able to prosper and grow their organizations because of those foundations.”

Welborn pointed out the fast growth in our county and stressed that as the population continues to grow, sadly, so does the need for child and family services.

With an accumulated 51 years of service in child advocacy between them, the one thing all the new directors and Welborn have in common is a passion for serving children and families in Shelby County. They all bring a wealth of knowledge to the child welfare arena.

Judge Welborn has many duties including handling divorce cases, small claims, child support, juvenile delinquency and dependency and minors in possession cases. She runs the gamut of issues that affect the new director’s work in Shelby County. Each of them engages in one or more of these areas. All their jobs are to serve abused and neglected children to the best of their abilities with the resources they are provided.

Family Connection, Inc. serves at-risk youth by providing them shelter, counseling and safety.

Owens House assists child abuse victims and their families by providing forensic interviews, family advocacy and follow-up counseling and training to their investigative team.

The Developing Alabama Youth (DAY) Program is an at-risk, alternative program for students providing them with mental, emotional and academic support.

The Department of Human Resources provides for the protection and well-being of children and adults.

There is no doubt that Shelby County is in good hands from the Juvenile Court Bench all the way across the county with these fresh new faces in so many positions of leadership. Together they will collaborate on their mission to make Shelby County’s children safer and the community better.