Child Welfare Worker Recognized For Work With DHS

Thursday, June 12th 2014, 7:10 pm
By: News 9

A child welfare worker is being hailed a hero.

Oklahoma Department of Human Services caseworkers routinely protect children from abuse and neglect.

Sometimes, child welfare workers have no choice but to walk into settings they know could be dangerous -- homes violent enough that state oversight is required.

Nicole Stevenson found out, in situations like that, a "routine" house visit could be anything but...

"We just began to have a conversation," Stevenson was interviewing a child on her caseload in Payne County when the child's parents began arguing in another room. "It just kept getting louder and louder and nothing was calming down," she said.

As a caseworker, Stevenson keeps record of the violence in the home and immediately recognizes the danger of the situation.

"I was freaking out," said Stevenson. "I didn't know what was about to happen. I thought I was going to be shot."

She didn't show her fear, instead, she barricaded herself and six children in a back bedroom of the home in Ripley and called her supervisor Meeghan Smith.

"I could hear yelling in the background and clanking," Meeghan Smith said she was proud of Stevenson for remaining calm. "The tone of her voice never changed," Smith added.

Smith cried explaining her concern for caseworkers' safety on a daily basis.

Stevenson wanted to cry too in that moment but said she kept her composure so the children would not get upset.

"Part of me was like, no, Nicole, you have to stay strong for them, because clearly the people that are supposed to were unable to at this time," Stevenson said.

The house visit ended when Ripley Police arrived to break up the fight. Police did not arrest the parents involved in the altercation.

The children were removed the home.

Stevenson was recognized as the Best of the Best at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services for keeping the children from harm.

She remains humble and said she was just doing her job.

"I was glad I was able to be there to protect the kids," Stevenson said.

Click here for more information on how to become a child welfare caseworker.