Two honored for work with children in Washington County

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By most people’s standards, Detective Sgt. Dawn Shane has a difficult job. She has been a Rochester Borough police officer for the past 21 years and has served as a child abuse investigator for the past 14 years.

Kimberly Rogers also works to protect children as director of the Washington County Children & Youth Services. In her role, Ms. Rogers created A Child’s Place at Washington.

For their work, both women have received the Above & Beyond Award from A Child’s Place at Mercy and Operation Backpack Children’s Foundation, two nonprofits that serve children in need.

Sgt. Shane received the award in the Law Enforcement Professional category. Ms. Rogers was honored in the Child Protective Service Professional category. Both received their awards last month.

A Child’s Place at Mercy is part of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and CHE Trinity Health. It serves as the official Allegheny County Child Advocacy Center. A Child’s Place provides forensics interviews and coordinates services for children who are victims of child abuse and sexual assault. Operation Backpack Children’s Foundation provides backpacks filled with necessities to children who are placed in emergency foster care.

Sgt. Shane, 44, investigates child abuse and sexual assault cases for the Rochester Borough Police Department. She coordinates the forensics interviews for child victims with A Child’s Place.

“By taking them to A Child’s Place, the child only has to tell the story one time. It is hard enough for a child to have to go through something like this, so the fact that they only have to tell the story once really helps them,” she said.

Sgt. Shane acknowledged that her job can be challenging. It “takes a toll on you,” she said, and that is one reason the recognition from the two nonprofits is important to her.

“Sometimes this is hard. We see children in situations that children should never be in. To know that someone is appreciative of that work means a lot,” she said.

Although it can be difficult, her work does provide satisfaction, she said.  

“It is truly fulfilling to be able to help a true victim. These are innocent kids who are true victims that have things happen to them totally out of their control — to help them and know you make a difference is wonderful,” she said.

Kelly Rohrich, president and co-founder of Operation Backpack Children’s Foundation, presented Sgt. Shane with her honor.

“Nobody pats these people on the back and tells them what a great job they are doing,” Ms. Rohrich said. “They are serving people from horrible situations and it is good for us to be able to thank them and recognize them for their services.” 

As the name of the award indicates, she said, “we want to bring attention to those who really go above and beyond their jobs to help children who can’t protect themselves.” 

With over 20 years in the child protective services field, Ms. Rogers, 43, was instrumental in establishing A Child’s Place at Washington, which opened in January of this year, because she believes that families and children can best be served with an entity that is separate from CYS and has the expertise of those who work at A Child’s Place.

“With their medical experience and forensics interviewing, they can provide services that we couldn’t, plus they are accredited,” she said.

Ms. Rogers received her honor from Mary Carrasco, founder and medical director of A Child’s Place. Dr. Carrasco has worked with Ms. Rogers to establish the Washington County location and knows how important it is to serve children all over the Pittsburgh region.

“It is easier for the child if we can provide them services closer to their home,” she said.

Like Ms. Rohrich, Dr. Carrasco believes it is important to thank those who work in child protection services.

“In this work we do, people rarely get recognized, but they do amazing work,” Dr. Carrasco said.

“It is such a pleasure to say ‘thank you’ to them. We can say it for the children as well.” 

Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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