As a Registered Psychologist who worked with Alberta Children’s Hospital’s Child Abuse Service for more than nine years, Dr. Daniel Garfinkel has seen many children and youth facing heartbreaking struggles. Specializing in supporting children who have been impacted by maltreatments, Daniel has helped kids who have experienced abuse – both physical and sexual – as well as those who have been exposed to domestic violence and parental drug use.

It’s a challenging field, but one that he sees as tremendously rewarding.

“What drew me to this area of specialization,” Daniel says, “was a realization that children can overcome significant adversity when they receive the right interventions at the right time, and when their communities come together to support them.”

Remembering a young boy he supported early in his career, he pauses. “This young man grew up with significant abuse and was struggling to cope with those experiences,” he says. “But he became able to form relationships with safe, trusting, dedicated adults who came together to support him.” Daniel smiles as he speaks proudly of the youth completing high school and learning to live independently as a young adult.

“It’s a real personal and professional honour to see kids struggle and then make significant change with the help of those around them,” he reflects. “It’s made me feel as though I can make a small difference in the lives of kids that have not had opportunities that I had growing up.”

One of the highlights of Daniel’s collaborations with various professionals and agencies over the years is his partnership with Closer to Home. Working closely with our program managers and other staff, Daniel provided clinical assessment and treatment for kids and families in our programs – most often, children and youth in our Teaching Homes.

“Closer to Home has been one agency in particular that has been able to collaborate with me in delivering day-to-day interventions that provide kids and families with the skills to be successful,” Daniel says. “It’s a real partnership. It’s not one way in terms of me making the suggestions and the agency carrying it out. With Closer to Home, there is a reciprocal relationship where we’re sharing information, we’re sharing experiences, we’re sharing strategies. There’s back and forth communication about how we can best serve young people, their caregivers and their families.”

Not only has Daniel collaborated with Closer to Home on specific cases, he has also graciously offered training and presentations to our staff to help us best understand the complex needs of maltreated children. “It’s been a real honour not only to do those presentations but to see some of the things that I have recommended then be carried out with kids and families on the frontline of the work that Closer to Home staff are doing.”

“He’s a saint,” says Jody Hoogwerf, a Program Manager at Closer to Home who has worked with Daniel for years. “He’s flexible, he’s passionate, and he really understands the importance of trauma-informed care. He sees the big picture and the long-term benefit of the work we do with these kids.”

When asked what this award means to him, Daniel pauses in contemplation. “This award is uniquely special, particularly because it reflects partnership and collaboration – working together to give kids what they need. All too often, professionals and organizations retreat into their silos. They do their own piece of work, and maybe at some point they may share that work with others, but it’s very much siloed work. And this award really honours the partnership – the coming together of multiple systems, multiple professionals, integrating and coordinating what we have to offer to best serve kids and families.”

Congratulations to our 2019 Community Builder, Dr. Daniel Garfinkel!