WASHINGTON, D.C. – The
National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is pleased to announce that Jay
Berlin is its National Public
Citizen of the Year for his decades-long work in advocating for abused and
neglected children in the San Francisco Bay Area and delivering improved
services and supports for foster children.
“Jay Berlin started Alternative Family Services 45 years ago
as a project to better serve foster children and, under his leadership, it has
grown from a small foster family agency to a regional organization that
provides foster care, adoptions, mental health and transitional age youth
services to thousands of people,” said NASW CEO Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW.
“Despite its growth, Alternative Family Services has never
lost sight of its original purpose – to do what is in the best interests of children and families,” McClain said.
The NASW Public Citizen of the Year Award honors an
outstanding member of the community whose accomplishments exemplify the values
and mission of professional social work. The award recipient is not a social
Berlin, PhD, is a fitting recipient of the award. He created the
first foster family agency in California dedicated to providing runaway
teenagers in San Francisco with family-based care instead of large group homes
and shelters. He developed programming for unaccompanied refugee children,
first from Cambodia and Vietnam and later from Ethiopia and Eretria.
Berlin’s agency was the first in the Bay Area to create
special programming for Spanish-speaking children and their families and for
children living with developmental disabilities.
He has also contributed to many statewide initiatives,
including California’s Continuum of Care Reform and implementation of the Katie
A. settlement to improve the delivery of mental health services to children.
Berlin also respects and supports his social work staff, not
requiring them to work very long hours, offering education leave and trying to
offer them the highest possible salaries.
“NASW is proud to bestow this award on Jay Berlin,” McClain
said. “Although not a social worker his advocacy work and commitment to helping
children exemplify the highest values and ethics of the social work