Cindi Christensen receives SCAN's 2018 Ally in Prevention Award  (courtesy photo)

Cindi Christensen has been named a 2018 Ally in Prevention by SCAN of Northern Virginia. Leon Harris, NBC4, presented the 16th Annual Allies in Prevention Awards at a luncheon on April 6. Carine McCandless, New York Times bestselling author of The Wild Truth, gave the keynote address. 

Cindi Christensen is the lead social worker for the City of Alexandria’s CPS Hotline. In her daily work, she answers, documents and screens calls from community members who have concerns about the abuse and neglect of children. It’s a difficult and demanding position, notes her nominator, but Cindi is a highly skilled interviewer, helping callers feel comfortable reporting on difficult topics.

“Her support and compassion for callers is balanced with a thoroughness necessary for Hotline calls; and the collective information sets the stage for social workers in the field to address all potential concerns for the child and family.”

But not all calls validate a CPS response, and this is where Cindi’s passion for prevention truly shines. She works to take every opportunity to use that single call as a connection that could help a family when they need it most—connecting them with local resources, discussing and addressing related problems like poverty or homelessness, or pairing them with social workers on a voluntary basis to address challenges before a child’s situation worsens. This commitment to prevention led Cindi to collaborate in 2015 for the development of a “Responding Responsibly to Child Abuse and Neglect” presentation, which she presented to 475 people in its first year. Since then, the training has reached more than 1,200 additional community members—reaching them everywhere from schools to police stations to local hospitals.

“When I think about my work and achievements I’m most proud of the relationships I have formed with citizens and mandated reporters, which has enabled better service delivery,” notes Cindi. “I also think about all of the presentations I have given on how to report suspected child abuse and neglect and how this has made people more comfortable reporting their concerns to CPS.”

“Cindi has always provided outstanding service to her coworkers and the community,” notes her nominator. “By establishing a community outreach training, she has shown her dedication to Alexandria’s children and families in ways that go above and beyond her regular duties.”

Other local individuals honored this year include:

Arlington -- Cheryl Fuentes, Arlington County's Project Family Program

Fairfax -- Bootsie Humenansky, SafeSpot Children's Advocacy Center of Fairfax

Loudoun -- Dr. Judy Hanley, Loudoun Abused Women's Shelter 

Prince William -- Jennifer Kooyoomjian, Prince William County Intensive Juvenile Probation Officer

SCAN also launched Year 2 of the 2018 Northern Virginia Child Abuse Prevention Campaign, Parenting Can Be Tough, at the event. 

“When I think about “Parenting Can Be Tough,” noted Cindi, "I think about how we as CPS workers encourage families to ask us for help when they need it. People are often scared of CPS, but more often than not, once they’ve worked with us they realize that we’re here to provide support to their family. When families are connected to services and empowered to ask questions, the family is bound to be stronger and safer.”