Bernadette Gallagher, PHD, RSW
Bernadette Gallagher has 35 years of experience in the child welfare sector having worked with three Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario (Brant Family and Children’s Services, the Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand-Norfolk, and Native Child and Family Services of Toronto) and the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS). She possesses a unique combination of direct clinical, senior leadership and a doctorate in social work that has culminated into her current portfolio as the Executive Director of Brant Family and Children’s Services.
Bernadette has a passion for social justice, children’s rights and a desire to see continuous quality improvement in child welfare service.
Brant FACS currently has two Directors of Service, one Director of Aboriginal Services, and one Director of Administration. These four Directors combined have over 70 years of service with Brant FACS. They support a leadership team of 21 Managers and 140 support staff and frontline workers who carry out parental decision-making authority for 309 Children in Care (2018).
Jill has worked as a Social Worker for over thirty years both inside and outside the child welfare sector. She began her career in child welfare and later worked in Employee Assistance Programs, in direct service and training. She later worked with various private companies offering Management Training. She returned to direct service working with young pregnant and parenting youth through a Young Parenting Resource Center in Hamilton. During her 12 years working with young mothers and fathers, she learned a great deal about the experiences of youth with child welfare from a user’s perspective. In 2001, Jill returned to child welfare at Brant FACS as the Foster Care Recruiter and Trainer and then later served as Manager of the Child Development Unit.
Jill is currently Director of Service with Brant Family and Children’s Services. With service users as teachers, she is committed to promoting critical thinking and innovation with a field that often defaults to mediocracy for compliance purposes. With a vision of having hope replace fear in child welfare, she works to support innovation within a system that has the power to create as many problems as it solves. While completing her M.S.W. at Master University in 2010, Jill’s thesis “A Kingdom in Trouble” focused on the Integration of Child Welfare and Community Development which was recognized and awarded the University’s Judge Hugh C Arrell Prize.
Jacquie has worked in the children’s mental health and the child welfare field for more than 30 years. She held a variety of different roles in urban and rural agencies as a residential worker, a day treatment worker, a group and individual therapist in a program servicing familial sexual abuse, a frontline child protection social worker, a child abuse specialist and a school-based social worker and a resource manager before assuming her current role in 2008. Jacquie has offered leadership in the development of our family engagement strategies, our critical incident response process and deepened the clinical practice of the agency utilizing principles such as Signs of Safety, Family Group Decision Making, Clinical Supervision and Community-Based Practice. She has taken a leadership role in enhancing our community partnerships. She has enhanced the service offered by our foster care system to families and children and guided our establishment of kinship care and service. She also developed a Child Witness Program. Jacquie is an actively involved co-facilitator of the PARS (Partner Assault Response Program) offered by our VAW partners at Nova Vita. Jacquie has provided training and mentoring throughout her career in a number of settings.
Gissele is currently the Director of Administration and Quality Assurance. Her portfolio includes Human Resources, Information Technology, Finance and Quality Assurance. She has worked at Brant FACS for over 5 years managing the Quality Assurance Department. Previously, she had experience with online learning, strategic planning, program evaluation, project management (including budget development and tracking), statistics, and research.
Provincially, Gissele has chaired the OACAS project on psychotropic medications among children in care and is involved in the Residential Services Review Workgroup for the OACAS.
Her publications include research on ADHD, Psychotropics, and Children in Care, Quality Assurance, Worker and Client engagement and Youth Voice.
Gissele is currently enrolled as a part-time M.S.W. student at Laurier University for the Fall of 2017.
Leslie has more than 18 years’ experience working at Brant FACS in the Native Services Branch. Prior to coming to Brant FACS, Leslie worked in Social Services field with the Six Nations community for eight years. She is currently serving as Director of Aboriginal Services, overseeing 4 managers and approximately 30 staff. She has an M.S.W. achieved through her studies at Wilfred Laurier University and a Bachelor of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology achieved at McMaster University. Leslie held various positions with Brant FACS a Family Service and Children’s Services before becoming a Protection Service Manager. She also served as a Resource and Children’s Service Manager for a number of years.
Leslie worked with the traditional leadership at Six Nations in the early development of Customary Care agreements. A Cayuga and advocate of indigenous peoples’ right to self-government and self-determination herself, Leslie has been concentrating on the transition of child welfare services to Six Nations of the Grand River. Leslie’s priority has been to ensure that the needs of all clients are met and that families and children remain safe during the transfer process. Leslie remains focused on finding a path to reconciliation in Child Welfare for Indigenous people.