State honors woman for her work with with at-risk children through Butler County ESC

Ashley Dobrozsi-Ferguson was recently honored by Ohio Children's Trust Fund for her work serving low-income families who have experienced severe trauma. Dobrozsi-Ferguson works for Butler County Educational Service Center as a Head Start site manager and Therapeutic Interagency Preschool director at Hamilton Early Learning Center. She was one of eight Ohioans nominated as heroes in their community for their work supporting local children, and one of the award recipients. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Ashley Dobrozsi-Ferguson was recently honored by Ohio Children's Trust Fund for her work serving low-income families who have experienced severe trauma. Dobrozsi-Ferguson works for Butler County Educational Service Center as a Head Start site manager and Therapeutic Interagency Preschool director at Hamilton Early Learning Center. She was one of eight Ohioans nominated as heroes in their community for their work supporting local children, and one of the award recipients. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Ashley Dobrozsi-Ferguson would not tell you she’s an everyday hero, but the people she works with would.

The Ohio Children’s Trust Fund will also call her an everyday hero as the state organization honored Dobrozsi-Ferguson and seven other Ohioans last month with the Everyday Ohio Hero Awards.

“I typically would not tell you that is me,” she said of being called an Everyday Ohio Hero. “I’m just somebody who loves to come to work. I found my thing in working with children and families. I’m just somebody that loves to come to work every day. I got into this not for a lot of praise.”

Dobrozsi-Ferguson, of Cincinnati, is Butler County Educational Service Center’s Therapeutic Interagency Preschool (TIP) Program coordinator and Head Start site manager. In her job, she works with at-risk children who have had adverse childhood experiences, like child abuse or neglect; family violence; mental health problems; come from homes where a parent has been incarcerated or suffers from drug addiction; or have divorced parents.

It’s typical to see children with one or two adverse childhood experiences, but Dobrozsi-Ferguson said her agency on average for the past several years sees children with seven adverse childhood experiences.

Butler County Family & Children First Council Executive Director Beth Race and several others nominated Dobrozsi-Ferguson.

Ohio Children’s Trust Fund Executive Director Lindsay Williams said the state agency focuses on child abuse and neglect prevention. In April every year, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Ohio Childhood Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, they honor eight Ohioans from the agency’s eight regions.

“The Everyday Ohio Heroes awards is part of our Be a Hero in the Eyes of a Child campaign that speaks to how all adults can be a hero in the eyes of a child one simple act of encouragement at a time,” Williams said. “We honor those throughout the state who have dedicated their lives, their time, their careers to helping support children and families.”

Williams said Dobrozsi-Ferguson was nominated “due to the fact that she loves children and she’s devoted all of her time to helping and inspiring those families, and helping to ensure those kiddos get off to a good start in life.”

While the honor was presented during National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Ohio Childhood Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, this first week of May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Williams said there are experiences that can happen to everyone during childhood, but four or more adverse childhood experiences can have long-term physical and emotional health impacts on children. She said research shows that positive childhood experiences, like having someone to talk to, being accepted, or having a trusted adult supporter on their side, are all things that can make a difference and can mitigate all those impacts of the adverse childhood experiences.

“That’s really what the Everyday Ohio Hero Award is about and the campaign, Be a Hero in the Eyes of a Child campaign, is about,” she said.

Dobrozsi-Ferguson said it’s important to focus on the mental health of children, and adults. She said it’s okay to see a therapist, even if a child or adult hasn’t had or had very few traumatic experiences.

“Life is stressful, and to be able to take that focus, especially with our little kids. We have a tendency as adults to say ‘They’re little,’ ‘They’ll get over it,’ or ‘They’re little, they won’t remember it, but we have 3-, 4-, 5-year-olds that will shock you with what they can remember from a situation, and from what their perspective is like.”

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