Leah van Lingen
Ms. van Lingen has worked for the County of San Diego’s Child Welfare Services since 2000. Prior to that, she worked for 4 years in a residential treatment facility for severely emotionally disturbed (SED) foster children. She led a team of care providers and also taught the recreational therapy classes (dance, piano, singing and drama/theater). In her role at the County, she has worked as a social worker in emergency response, continuing services and as a Court Officer. Ms. van Lingen spent most of her case carrying years in the Medically Fragile and Deaf specialty units. Children in those units are not only abused but also have a medical condition that creates great complexity in the children’s cases (e.g. can a parent not only safely reunify but also understand and address their child’s serious and unique needs? Additionally, many medically fragile children are non-verbal which makes investigations of this vulnerable population quite complex).
Ms. van Lingen completed her undergraduate work at UCSD with a degree in Psychology. Ms. van Lingen is also a fellow of Georgetown University, through their Center for Juvenile Justice Reform. Ms. van Lingen successfully completed a project in September of 2009 for Georgetown’s “Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare, Multi-System Integration” that focused on early childhood interventions as a strategy to help reduce the number of children who move from the foster care system into the juvenile delinquency system. In August of 2013, Ms. van Lingen completed a second project that was successfully approved by Georgetown University for the “Information Sharing” program. This project addresses the complex confidentiality laws and cross over rules between Child Welfare and the many entities that Child Welfare collaborates with (schools, other courts, law enforcement, etc.). The project seeks to simplify the understanding of various confidentiality laws so that agencies can work together more efficiently. Tools were also put into place that affirmed existing information sharing laws in an easy-to-access format that all partners could understand.
In February of 2014, Georgetown University announced Ms. van Lingen’s Early Childhood project as winner of the 2013 Project of the year. Ms. van Lingen’s project was selected from amongst 400 other nationwide fellows’ projects. This award recognizes projects that have made significant impacts and positive progress for children.
Ms. van Lingen enjoys her current role in Child Welfare Policy analyzing and writing policy. She also provides direction on confidentiality and compiles the responses to lawsuits against the County for child abuse related matters. Ms. van Lingen has trained wide audiences from social workers to attorneys to CASA volunteers. She enjoys shedding light on grey topics and aiding learning by adding a bit of humor.