They meet with Children’s Services employees and service providers, sharing their experiences as parents of a child with disabilities.
The UT College of Social Work will honor the Henrys for their work and advocacy March 25 with the 2014 Senator Douglas Henry Award for Service to Children and Families at Risk. The award will be presented during the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare’s annual luncheon in Nashville.
“Jim and Pat Henry are tireless advocates for children and families,” said Karen Sowers, dean of the College of Social Work. “They work hard every day to make Tennessee a better, safer, and more compassionate place. We are proud to honor them with this year’s award.”
The College of Social Work established the award in 2008. It is presented annually to a person or agency that exemplifies the values and dedication of Tennessee state Senator Douglas Henry.
Senator Henry has been called the patron saint of children and social workers for his long and dedicated service to the children and families of Tennessee.
During his many years in the state legislature, he has sponsored numerous bills that affect the safety and well-being of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. These include legislation to prohibit the placement of children in adult jails and providing state supplement funding to improve Juvenile Court services, as well as many bills aimed at improving the adoption system. He also has sponsored bills recognizing the importance of social workers and raising the educational standards, credentialing requirements, and salaries of Department of Children’s Services caseworkers.
Jim and Pat Henry are not related to the senator. The couple’s son, John, was born with severe developmental disabilities. He died in 2012 at the age of 34.
Jim Henry served as commissioner of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities before being appointed commissioner of the Department of Children’s Services.
Prior to joining state government, he served as president and CEO of Omni Visions Inc., a company serving adults with developmental disabilities and children and families in crisis. A former Kingston mayor, he served twelve years as a state representative and six of those years as the Minority Leader advocating on behalf of children and individuals with developmental disabilities.
Pat Henry, in addition to her roles as wife and mother, ran her own business for forty years while consistently maintaining speaking engagements and campaign schedules in support of her husband’s bids for office as councilman, mayor, legislator, and governor.
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