Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Fallen Social Services Aide Honored at Ceremony
Family of Boni Frederick receives medal
FRANKFORT, Ky. – A Western Kentucky social services aide who died earlier this year in the line of duty was honored today at a ceremony in Owensboro.
Governor Ernie Fletcher paid tribute to Boni Frederick, who was 67 when she died on Oct. 16. Frederick was supervising a state foster child’s court-ordered visit with his mother when she was beaten to death.
“The countless condolences received from people across the country by the Frederick family are a testament to the selfless spirit with which Boni lived her life,” Governor Fletcher said. “Grief and tragedy are temporary. Yet, goodness, love and generosity are eternal. The amazing love that Boni shared is what we must remember and keep in our hearts.”
Governor Fletcher presented a medal honoring Frederick’s life and work to her daughter, Sandy Travis, of Dixon. Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell and CHFS Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) Commissioner Tom Emberton Jr. also participated in the presentation.
The medal is an exceptional service award and CHFS leadership has given only two other similar medals since 2003.
Governor Fletcher told the group of social services workers gathered that he understands many of them are still coping with Frederick’s death.
“I thank you for your continued commitment and dedication to serving families and children in crisis,” Governor Fletcher said. “Without you, many families may never realize the promise of a brighter day that you provide with your guidance.”
Also today, Birdwhistell and Emberton delivered cellular phones to several DCBS staff in the Henderson and Union county offices. The phones are part of a larger electronic “tool kit” to help child and protective services staff better protect themselves and serve clients.
Staff will also receive a digital camera with docking station and a small laptop computer.
Emberton said Frederick was passionate about her work and about protecting the children in her care.
“Boni was truly one of Kentucky’s quiet heroes,” Emberton said. “With this medal, we can recognize the silent strength with which she protected Kentucky’s most vulnerable children.”
Emberton launched a safety initiative in January to enhance safety in DCBS offices and in clients’ homes. Since Frederick’s death, he has formed a work group to identify several areas for improvement. Efforts include enhanced staff training, facility assessments by security experts and the appointment of a DCBS safety officer and safety officers in each of the department’s nine regions.
At the ceremony, Governor Fletcher said his administration is working with lawmakers on proposed legislation that will provide additional technology and staffing.
“It is important that we learn from this tragedy and work on legislation that ensures the safety and security of our social service workers,” said Governor Fletcher.
Also in partnership with legislators, Fletcher is pushing for security enhancements to all local DCBS offices, as well as an expansion of Jefferson County’s successful “parent advocate” program, which helps act as a support system for parents involved with the child welfare system.