Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Awards

Awards recognize those in San Joaquin County working to prevent child abuse and aid victims

The San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) and the San Joaquin Children's Services Coordinating Commission are pleased to announce the recipients of this year's Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Awards.

The awards reflect the dedication of the individuals and organizations in our community committed to improving the lives of children. Winners were recognized at the 19th Annual Child Abuse Prevention Symposium on April 10 at the Stockton Hilton. The Symposium brings together more than 300 educators, social workers, law enforcement officers, nurses, advocates, therapists, and other professionals working to prevent child abuse and help its victims. Part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the symposium allows these professionals to share strategies that will aid in their efforts throughout the year. 

The Symposium also offers an opportunity for those gathered to recognize and reward the excellence of their peers:

Distinguished Honoree

 Dave Erb’s 34-year career working in the child welfare system has been dedicated to keeping children safe and providing opportunities for children to thrive.  During his career, Erb taught at the University of the Pacific to educate others about child abuse and neglect, served on the board of directors for both the Women’s Center of San Joaquin County and Community Partnership for Families of San Joaquin, served on the State Child Death Review Council, and acted as a Department of Justice grievance review officer.  He was also appointed as a Children’s Services Coordinating Commission member from 1998 until his retirement from the San Joaquin County Human Services Agency in 2009.  However, Erb’s work advocating for at-risk children didn’t stop there.  He continued to serve in the same capacity on the commission as a community volunteer until 2018.  

Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

Detective Yanell Ysais is a six-year veteran of the Stockton Police Department who became a detective as a domestic violence investigator in the family crimes unit before moving to the child abuse and sexual assault investigations unit. One of her first major cases involved a local pastor accused of sexually abusing the daughter of a parishioner. The case required investigators to work quickly and thoroughly without breaching confidentiality. Ysais and her partner obtained a full confession and the suspect pled to 16 years in state prison. Ysais was a seasoned investigator by the time she was on what became the high-profile case of Rodney Flucas, who was accused of long-term sexual abuse of his children and other victims that spanned years in multiple states. Ysais developed a bond and trust with the victims that brought the extent of the abuse to light. Flucas was prosecuted in federal court and sentenced to life in prison.


Service Employee of the Year

Dixie Zuniga and Angelica del Castillo are both social workers in the Child Protective Services Dependency Court Unit. They provide case management services mandated by the court to at-risk children and their parents with a multitude of personal issues that impact their ability to adequately parent. The social workers primarily provide case management services to Spanish-speaking clients. They constantly communicate with community service providers, such as clinicians, translators, attorneys, program instructors, teachers, medical staff, probation officers, social workers, foster parents, and extended family members -- all with the focus to reunify parents with their children. Zuniga and del Castillo take a hands-on approach with Spanish-speaking clients that shows they genuinely know the disadvantages a person might have while trying to understand the complexity of a court hearing. The pair make a hard-working and effective team.


Volunteer of the Year

Victoria Serrano was chosen as volunteer of the year for her advocacy, strong leadership, and commitment to helping families. She participated for two years in the Child Abuse Prevention Council’s Parent Café at South/West Park Elementary School in Tracy, where she used different tools and techniques to promote strong and healthy families. Elected a parent mentor, she successfully conducted continuation sessions with her fellow parents. Throughout her group facilitation, she developed strong communication skills and helped other mothers overcome difficult situations. She has been actively involved in the “Poder de Voces Especiales” through Valley Mountain Regional Center, which reaches into the community to help families who have children with special needs. Her passion and dedication have been inspired by her own daughter, who has autism.


Appreciation for Years of Service

Dale Fritchen recently retired from San Joaquin County Human Services Agency, where he worked for 35 years to protect children. He showed his commitment early on in his career. On one of his first "intake and assessment" calls on a rainy night, he climbed through a window to secure a child that had been left alone in a crib with bottles, but no supervision. Over the years, he worked closely with law enforcement, hospitals, other social workers, elected officials, and anyone else who wanted to learn more about the child-welfare system. Fritchen has served on various committees throughout his career, and he states he will continue to volunteer and advocate for at-risk children in his retirement.

Posted: 4/10/2019