By Nancy Molnar
Special to the Beacon Journal
CANTON: County commissioners on Wednesday hired a new director of Stark County’s Department of Job and Family Services.
Deborah Forkas comes from Fairfax, Va., where she is director of the Children, Youth and Families Division of the Fairfax County Department of Family Services.
Forkas, 57, grew up in Lakewood and began her career counseling teenage girls at the Marycrest Residential Treatment Center in Independence.
She is scheduled to start work March 10 at a pay rate of $57.69 per hour, which would increase to $58.85 per hour after a 90-day probationary period. Commissioners authorized a one-time stipend of $2,600 for relocation expenses.
Forkas will replace Julie Barnes, who left to become executive director of Summit County Children Services.
Commissioner Thomas Bernabei said Forkas came “very highly recommended.” He noted her work with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national child advocacy organization.
During her tenure in Fairfax County, the agency was one of two in the country to receive a grant from the foundation to learn leadership strategies to reduce the number of older children aging out of foster care without permanent homes or connections.
Commissioner Richard Regula said he hopes Forkas can improve the educational, vocational and social experiences of teens in group homes and detention centers. Forkas said she is looking forward to meeting the staff of the Stark department and the community partners that work with it.
A meet-and-greet session was held Wednesday evening at the Goodwill Community Campus in southwest Canton.
In addition to working in Fairfax County, she previously served as director of children and family services for Cuyahoga County and was deputy executive director for social services for Summit County.
In 2011, new Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald fired Forkas, along with three other high-ranking officials in other departments, as he reshaped county government there.
Forkas holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Toledo and a master’s degree in education from John Carroll University.
Nancy Molnar can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.