Kentucky Court of Justice
AOC’s Patrick R. Yewell inducted into UK College of Social Work Hall of Fame
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Patrick R. Yewell, who oversees programs that help children and families for the Administrative Office of the Courts, has been inducted into the University of Kentucky College of Social Work Hall of Fame. He was selected for the honor in recognition of “his passionate and tireless efforts to help our state’s most vulnerable children,” said James P. Adams, dean of the College of Social Work.
“Patrick has been involved with so many projects and programs that have impacted Kentucky’s children and families that it would be hard to name them all,” Adams said. “What is evident above any one accomplishment is that he is able to understand the big picture. He skillfully manages to bring together a diverse group of people for the sake of our state’s most troubled children. He is a true collaborator and gets others to think in this way as well.
“Patrick has given social workers a real voice in the juvenile justice system on behalf of children and troubled families. He has inspired countless individuals and is a shining example of what the social work profession stands for.”
Yewell was inducted into the hall in May and is the 15th individual to become a member since the hall started in 1999. Those chosen for the hall of fame are deemed outstanding in the social work profession by their colleagues and are selected by a committee of their peers for induction. Yewell earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work at UK.
As executive officer for the AOC Department of Family and Juvenile Services in Frankfort, Yewell oversees court programs designed to help children and families through outreach, prevention, education and diversion. The department administers the Court Designated Worker program, Citizen Foster Care Review Board, Kentucky Court Improvement Project, Guardian ad Litem program and law-related education programs.
“We are thrilled that UK selected Patrick for this high honor,” AOC Director Laurie K. Dudgeon said. “He has devoted his career to improving the lives of Kentucky children and families and is deserving of such recognition for his great work. UK made an excellent choice.”
Yewell has been employed with the AOC for 16 years. He joined the agency upon being appointed by then-Chief Justice of Kentucky Robert F. Stephens to head the Citizen Foster Care Review Board program. CFCRBs are comprised of citizen volunteers who review the files of children who are in foster care because of abuse, dependency and neglect. The boards work with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the courts to get the children placed in safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.
He was later chosen to manage the Kentucky Court Improvement Project, which supports the CFCRBs and has developed other initiatives to promote the safety, well-being and permanency of children in foster care, such as the 2007 Kentucky Summit on Children. In 2001, he was appointed to head the AOC Division of Dependent Children’s Services, which includes the CFCRB program, Kentucky Court Improvement Project, the Guardian ad Litem program and the Model Court program.
In naming him to its hall of fame, the UK College of Social Work noted that Yewell spearheaded the Guardian ad Litem program, which prepares attorneys to provide legal representation to abused and neglected children throughout the state. The program has trained more than 10,000 attorneys, social workers and advocates in the areas of child development and legal and protection issues. All attorneys must complete the training before they practice in court.
In 2003, Yewell was selected to lead the AOC Department of Juvenile Services, which is now the Department of Family and Juvenile Services. In addition to the Division of Dependent Children’s Services, the department includes the Family Court program, the Kentucky Mock Trial and Kentucky Teen Court programs and the Court Designated Worker program. CDWs work with the courts to help troubled young people by allowing them to be placed in diversion programs and avoid formal court appearances. The diversion process teaches them to be accountable for their actions and encourages them to avoid other encounters with the law.
Prior to joining the AOC, Yewell served as a state child protective services worker in the Executive Branch and moved up the ranks to become a supervisor and mentor to other CPS workers. From 1986 to 1994, he was a Family Services Office supervisor for the Cabinet for Human Resources (now known as the Cabinet for Health and Family Services). While there, he created programs for young people, including the first adolescent parenting class and the first juvenile sex offender program in Fayette County.
Yewell was previously recognized for his efforts in the area of social work when the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services gave him the Paul T. Grannis Award in 1989. The award is the cabinet’s top honor for its social workers.
Yewell is a graduate of Franklin County High School in Frankfort. He and his wife reside in Lexington and have one son and one daughter.
The AOC is the operations arm of the Kentucky Court of Justice and supports the activities of approximately 3,400 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC prepares a biennial budget draft and executes the Judicial Branch budget.