Contributor Choice #884988
Combined Federal Campaign #9165
1061 Waterdam Plaza Drive
McMurray, PA 15317
The Watchful Shepherd program grew out of an inspiration to apply a practical solution to family violence and the abuse of children. This program has been an attempt to take on a very upsetting topic, the dark side of family life, and the abuse and violence which polarizes families and social institutions in general.
In 1993, Joseph Femiani initiated the Watchful Shepherd program to provide the Washington County (PA) Child Protective Services Unit with an electronic monitoring device to enhance its efforts to protect children in potentially dangerous family situations. Cases are identified by consultation between the agency caseworker, supervisor and the Watchful Shepherd Coordinator. Court Orders from Juvenile Court and the Court of Common Pleas Custody Division have provided judicial sanctions when necessary. Once identified, the ultimate success factor is the ability to secure the cooperation of the at-risk families, thus allowing the implementation of the program.
It is explained to the families and the child victims that The Watchful Shepherd will provide them with a wrist band that can activate an electronic device that is installed in their home. This in turn activates a computer monitoring system at our National Response Center on a 24 hour a day basis. The same technology has been used extensively with senior citizens in signaling emergency personnel for medical attention.
In addition, The Watchful Shepherd provides for ongoing telephone contact with the child by a volunteer to ensure that the system is in working order and that the child is doing well. Police departments are the first to be dispatched to the home. The County Child Protective Services Unit or assigned agency and the Watchful Shepherd Coordinator are involved in ongoing dialogue around program effectiveness and the resolution of safety issues.