Children’s Home Society of South Dakota Leader Receives National Award
Champion Award: outstanding leadership and workforce transformation
Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Children’s Home Society of South Dakota (CHS) Chief Executive Officer, Michelle Lavallee accepted the Children’s Bureau Champion award for outstanding leadership and workforce transformation. The Children’s Bureau is affiliated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The award recognizes innovative and impactful ways Children’s Home Society of South Dakota has attracted, retained, and supported a workforce which is committed to supporting children and families. The award was announced in Washington, D.C. with a local ceremony taking place in Sioux Falls.
In a time when employers across the nation are struggling to retain talent, Lavallee and her leadership team have developed a national model for how to create a workplace culture which fosters professional growth, personal respect, and leads to positive impacts on the lives of the children the team is blessed to serve.
- Michelle Lavallee, CEO Children’s Home Society: “I am honored to receive this award on behalf of our 348 employees, our board, benefactors and our community. Empowering our team members and energizing this incredible group of people is not just about building a strong culture. It is about creating an environment in which we can all best serve the children and families we are blessed to share our lives with.”
Under Lavallee’s leadership, the new employee reward package was created, which includes paying for student loans and higher education, improving time off, competitive insurance coverage and more. These benefits have increased staff pride, satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. CHS has taken an active role in making sure staff themselves feel respected, cared for and cherished.
- Blake Bennett, Children’s Home Society Employee: “Every day we want the kiddos we serve to feel like they can do anything in life, overcome any obstacle. Michelle makes our team feel that way, too. The work we do is sometimes hard and emotionally draining, but as an organization I know people are here to support me, too—to make my journey in life meaningful.”
Trauma-informed care not only describes treatment for the children, individuals and families CHS serves, but also staff interactions. Within its six core programs, 75% of staff provide direct care to people impacted by traumatic events. The daily weight of the work in an emotionally charged environment can lead to burnout, secondary trauma and high turnover. Chronic stress can impact the mental health and well-being of staff. Michelle has infused energy into the development of a trauma-informed organization (TIO). In the past few months, the TIO team has created a one-hour video on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), trauma, trauma-informed care grounded in SAMHSA and ACEs Neuroscience for the entire organization. To date, every employee and board member has watched the video. The result is more than a shared language and understanding. With a trauma-informed lens, employee interactions are grounded in empathy, awareness and accountability.
- Jack Marsh, Children’s Home Society Board Member: “Michelle impacts and inspires everyone around here. She has built a trusted team of engaged compassionate and skilled professionals. Michelle’s unwavering commitment to staff and those served by CHS means some of the most vulnerable children, youth and families in the State of South Dakota receive care and treatment from a well-equipped, trauma-informed team.”
CHS University was created as a leadership program not often seen in the nonprofit world. The goals include leadership effectiveness, self-awareness and leveraging individual styles and talents to shape a cohesive team.
- Michelle Lavallee, Children’s Home Society CEO: “All employers are facing workforce challenges, but in our world, keeping an exceptional and consistent team in place to serve the people we serve is vitally important. So many of the children we care for have lived lives without consistent love and attention. When a little boy or girl see a familiar face each day here, we know we are providing them a genuine sense of security and connection.”
Posted on April 12, 2023
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