Social worker to get award two months before retirement Boss nominated her for Makofsky honor

March 26, 1997|By Sheila Hotchkin | Sheila Hotchkin,CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

ANNAPOLIS -- During her childhood, Dorothy Boyle and her four siblings had a motto: S.P.S., for "self praise stinks."

To this day, Boyle shies from speaking of her accomplishments. "If you've done something well, someone will recognize it," she said.

Someone did recognize Boyle's efforts. Her boss secretly nominated her for the Makofsky award, a statewide honor for social work. On April 4, two months before she is to retire as deputy director of the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services, Boyle will become the seventh recipient.

"Dotty just strikes me as the consummate professional," said Edward Bloom, director of the department.

Boyle picked her career from an employment office list after moving to Maryland from New Jersey in the early 1960s.

She has a bachelor's degree in business and did not receive a degree in social work until 1969, when she earned her master's from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

But Boyle knew she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother, who had helped people solve personal and family problems in Ireland.

"I knew that was what I wanted to do, but I didn't really know it was called social work," Boyle said.

In Anne Arundel, Boyle helped create a partnership allowing judges and caseworkers to decide jointly what was best for each family, said Anne Arundel Circuit Judge James C. Cawood Jr.

"What we don't want to have is courts out doing one thing and social workers running around doing another," he said. Working closely with judges, caseworkers can avoid misinterpreting court orders.

Boyle's concern for families, perhaps strengthened by the experience of raising her five children, extends to her work with foster children. The goal in each case is to find a permanent home for the child.

"Are we really doing them any good keeping them in foster care?" she asked.

During her term as deputy director, the decline in the number of children in foster care in Anne Arundel County has been one of the sharpest in the state.

In the 1991 fiscal year, 148 new foster-care cases went through Anne Arundel social services. By 1996, that number was down to 62. In the past three years, the county has reduced spending on foster care from $4.5 million to $2.8 million.

As deputy director, Boyle oversees the cases coming through social services, deciding which to pursue and which to let go. Each month, the department investigates 250 new cases of child abuse and neglect.

"You pray a lot," she said. " 'Please, God, make the children safe.' "

Like Boyle, Louise Rainer Makofsky -- for whom the award is named -- worked in child welfare. When she died, her husband worked with the UMBC to create the honor, to memorialize her and recognize those with similar accomplishments.

The most recent contact Boyle had with her alma mater was to request a copy of her diploma, which she lost a couple years ago. She said she did not expect the award.

"Congratulations," Associate Dean Lily Gold said when she called a month ago to tell Boyle know she had won the award.

"What, on being the only social worker to lose her diploma?" Boyle replied.

Pub Date: 3/26/97

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