Exemplary service

Otter Tail County child welfare social worker Tamra Jokela received the 2020 Child Welfare Exemplary Service Award.

Tamra Jokela has been awarded the 2020 Child Welfare Exemplary Service Award. The Child Welfare Exemplary Service Award was developed in 2015 by the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) to recognize Minnesota county and tribal child welfare supervisors and front-line workers for exemplary service to children and families. Jokela has dedicated over 35 years of service supporting children and families in her social work career.

In demonstrating a commitment to engagement in strengths-based work with families, a focus on reducing disparities in the child welfare system, and utilization of research-supported practice Jokela was nominated by her colleagues in the human services department.

“Tamra exemplifies what it means to support, advocate, and positively impact the lives of the people we serve and to promote child safety and family well-being,” wrote Deb Sjostrom, Otter Tail County Human Services director in her nomination. Her length of service to children and families is not often seen in the child protection and child welfare field and is certainly something to celebrate.”

Her career has been in service to children and families. She started her career in county service, worked for a couple of years in the public school system and was drawn back to county service. Jokela has worked for 32 years in Otter Tail County as an ongoing case manager and as a supervisor in child protection.

In 2011, Jokela began working as a supervisor for the Otter Tail County Children and Family Services Unit where she played a significant role in the SELF program for many years. The SELF program works to support young adults aging out of foster care. Jokela was the primary social worker working intensely with the families who participated in the Otter Tail County family dependency courts, which were modeled after the DWI, drug and the problem-solving courts. She has also been an integral part of the Children’s Justice Initiative as an active member since its inception.

The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners stood and applauded Jokela as she was recognized at the Oct. 13 board meeting. Leaders from CASCW also spoke virtually to honor Jokela’s work. Commissioner Rogness praised Jokela’s service to the families of the county, “We recognize your commitment. You have dedicated your life to working for the children of Otter Tail County and have positively impacted the lives of many, many young people. Thank you for your dedication.”

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