The director previously worked at a private foster-care agency.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- For Jane Gajda, the focus always has been on children.
It came first as a schoolteacher, then as a stay-at-home mother and later as a social worker.
Now Gajda is putting her skills to work as director of Lawrence County Children and Youth Services. She started work Monday at the county's office in the Almira Home on East Washington Street. She replaces Brenda Brown, who retired in December 2001.
"My predecessor, Brenda Brown, I have the highest admiration for her and the job she did here. They will be difficult shoes to fill," Gajda added.
She said her first few days have been spent learning her position and getting to know the staff.
She left the Bair Foundation, a national private foster-care program with an office in New Wilmington, Pa., where she was director of social services, to work for the county.
She said she is pleased with the transition.
Praise for workers: "I think the county [Children and Youth Services] is a well-oiled machine here. The employees are very much aware of their job, and the people who work here have been here for several years and know their responsibilities and are a wealth of information," she continued.
Gajda received her undergraduate degree in education from Slippery Rock University and taught for several years in the Laurel School District. She said she left teaching to raise her sons, Brandon, now 24, and Brant, now 22. She later went back to SRU for a master's degree in counseling and eventually started working for the Bair Foundation.
Gajda lives in Scott Township, Lawrence County, with her husband, Paul.
County Commissioner Brian Burick said there was a lag between Brown's departure and Gajda's hiring because the county was waiting for her approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare's Bureau of Human Resources. The county salary board set Gajda's annual salary at $41,000.