Beech Brook President/CEO Debra Rex was presented with the annual George Stevens Award for Service to the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies (OACCA) at their statewide conference in Columbus in late April.

The award is named in honor of OACCA founder George Stephens, who believed in the need for a strong, unified voice for private child-caring agencies, such as Beech Brook. He established the organization in 1973 as Ohio’s first statewide child advocacy organization for Ohio’s at-risk children, families and community providers.

A long-time member of OACCA and a board member since 2009, Rex has held three different offices and continues to serve as a member of the Executive Committee. For five years, she has also served as chair or co-chair of the Behavioral Health Subcommittee and has pushed for the establishment of the Managed Care Subcommittee to help position OACCA agencies for the changes ahead in the field. She has represented OACCA on the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Behavioral Health Redesign and other subcommittees of that group. Her extensive knowledge of and expertise in many issues confronting child-caring agencies have made her a frequent and sought-after speaker and panelist on a variety of topics, including Health Homes and Managed Care, at OACCA meetings and conferences.

In collaboration with other members, Rex has worked to strengthen OACCA’s structure and performance to enhance the organization’s ability to advocate for policies that protect Ohio’s children and families. As a member of the Ohio Fostering Connections Task Force, she also helped secure initial funding for the advocacy efforts that resulted in the passage of HB 50, extending benefits to youth aging out of foster care to age 21.

In accepting the award, Rex said, “I am so fortunate that the mission of Beech Brook includes “serving as a strong voice for children and families. This has allowed the use of my time to help strengthen the functioning and voice of OACCA.

“It is so important to have a strong organization that speaks for kids, who have no natural constituency. Our OACCA annual report states that our member organizations collectively served over 125,000 last year alone, and our policy impact goes far beyond the kids served by our agencies. We are truly improving the lives of thousands and thousands and thousands of Ohio children!”

Founded in 1852, Beech Brook is now in its 165th year of service to children and families. The agency currently provides a wide range of community-based programs that help children overcome emotional and behavioral problems; identify and treat mental health issues in early childhood; provide caring foster homes for youth who cannot live safely in their own families; and educate, strengthen and support parents. Just this year, Beech Brook will touch the lives of more than 18,000 children and their families in Northeast Ohio through programs including:

  • Foster care
  • Family preservation
  • Outpatient therapy for children and teens
  • School-based mental health services
  • Community-based services for at-risk youth and young adults
  • Mentoring
  • Comprehensive sex education
  • Seminars for divorcing families
  • Early childhood services
  • Parent support and education
  • Teen parent groups
  • Child abuse prevention and early intervention

Beech Brook’s headquarters is located at 3737 Lander Rd., Pepper Pike. The agency also provides services at its Family Drop-In Center, located at the Carl B. Stokes Social Services Building, 6001 Woodland Ave., Cleveland.

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