After 35 years of service, a well known Department of Human Services worker is calling it a career.
Shirley Rhodus was honored by the Board of El Paso County Commissioners at its regular meeting Tuesday, February 20. Commissioners recognized her retirement with an official Proclamation, expressing thanks for her 35 years in the Department of Human Services.
“I can’t imagine working in child welfare for 35 years,” said Board President Pro Tem Mark Waller. “It’s incredibly meaningful work, but does not lead to a lot of recognition.”
Rhodus began her career with El Paso County DHS in 1983 as a child protection caseworker, and served in several areas as supervisor and manager through the 1990s. She was promoted to Division Manager in Ongoing Child Protection Services in 1997, and in 2005 she took on the same role in Child Welfare Intake. Rhodus was named Director of Children Youth and Family Services in 2008.
“I want to commend and thank Shirley Rhodus for her incredible contributions to child protection,” Department of Human Services Executive Director Julie Krow said, adding that Rhodus is recognized across the state for her understanding of child protection law.
She implemented Expedited Permanency Planning for young children in foster care in 1996, the third county in Colorado to do so. She served on the state Child Fatality Review Team for more than ten years.
“Ms. Rhodus has been critical in sharing best practices with caseworkers, in partnership with judges, magistrates and others,” said Board President Darryl Glenn as he read the Proclamation into the record. “Her leadership and expertise have been recognized by the Colorado Judicial Branch and the Colorado Department of Human Services.”
Rhodus led the implementation in 2002 of the first special Family Treatment Drug Court. A few years later, in 2005, she created an expedited process for substance abuse assessments for parents in Juvenile Court.
Rhodus has been a Steering Committee member of the 4th Judicial District’s Model Court/Best Practice Court since its inception in 2005. In 2016, she created the prevention program with the Juvenile Court, diverting truants from needing formal involvement with Child Welfare.
“It’s obvious you have a heart for children and families,” Commissioner Stan VanderWerf said. “You have done so much for the County in creating and working with these programs.”
Rhodus offered thanks of her own: “I would like to thank the commissioners for their support,” she said. “I could not have done my job without my staff. They are first responders, working closely with families to achieve the best outcomes.”