Hamilton County (OH) Social Worker Brings High-Impact Creativity to her Advocacy
Noraa Hill is a social worker in the Juvenile Division of the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office in Cincinnati, Ohio. This is a large office, with 144 fulltime employees. Ray Faller is the Chief Defender. He had a chance to talk to Noraa at a booth the office sponsored for a Juneteenth Festival in Cincinnati’s Eden Park. He asked Noraa how things were going in the office. Here’s what he learned from her:
So, since starting at the Hamilton County PD Juvenile Division I noticed our kids were looking pretty rough and not well groomed coming to court. Unfortunately, appearance is everything! So I asked one of my good friends, Ernest Smith, who is a licensed barber, to do me a favor and, on his off day from the barber shop, come and cut hair for kids who are currently detained for court.
He was delighted and said he wouldn’t mind as he once was in some of their shoes. I knew he would be the perfect person because as he would be cutting their hair, he could relate to these boys, as well as provide ministry. He is deeply involved in church.
He has been coming the past few months every Monday when he gets off work from his other full-time job and comes to the detention center right after their dinner time and he cuts until its lights out.
The detention center has a barber that comes in for them once a week and he is also greatly appreciated, however he costs $20 a haircut and the parents have to drop the $20 off or they cannot receive a haircut.
Working in this field for many years, I know some of our families cannot afford the $20 or transportation to even drop the $20 off or even worse, some of our kid’s parents fail to even show up to court. I wanted our kids to look presentable for court and I did not want it to be any barriers to hinder them outside of the time schedule the detention center allows for the barbers to cut hair.
Therefore, any of the kids that our public defenders are representing can receive a free haircut, even if they are being held on the adult pod at the detention center! If you look good, you feel good and hopefully it will encourage them to look the part and want to do better!
Our attorneys, the magistrates, judges and parents have noticed and commented on our client’s grooming and hair! I have heard compliments given by the magistrates and judges to our kids myself!
The parents and kids have been so appreciative that I cared enough about their appearance, self-esteem and the affect that it may have on the magistrates and judges. The parents and our clients have been oh so grateful for Ernest and I’m grateful my friend could help these kids!
Social Worker Noraa Hill
Juvenile Division, Hamilton County Public Defender's Office