Mary McNeish-Stengel, LCSW-C, began screening domestic cases and performing child access evaluations full-time on April 1 this year, after working part time at Family Support Services for the previous 12 months. She replaces former court social worker Sandy Gallagher and comes well-equipped to handle the difficult cases arriving each day at the Office of Family Support Services.
For the last 15 years, Ms. McNeish-Stengel maintained a private therapy practice focused on counseling for individuals involved in separation and divorce and those in need of co-parenting counseling/coordination. While working in private practice, she also performed custody evaluations on a contractual basis for the Circuit Court for Carroll County.
A strong proponent of alternative dispute resolution, Ms. McNeish-Stengel is trained in mediation and collaborative law in both the “coaching” and “child specialist” roles. Indeed, she has engaged in collaborative law on a significant level in Howard County, where that form of dispute resolution appears to be more prevalent than it is in Baltimore County.
Ms. McNeish-Stengel screens cases and litigants for any services that are offered by Family Support Services, specifically those matters that may involve substance abuse evaluations, home visits, supervised visitation and child access evaluations. She is one of four social workers in the OFSS who performs child access evaluations. She has also been providing orientation services to children who will be meeting their parents at the Baltimore County Visitation Center.
When asked what counsel can do to assist clients while trying to secure services (and to help make her job easier), Ms. McNeish-Stengel replied that she appreciates attorneys who “do not fan the flames,” adding that these matters “do not need yet another individual adding fuel to the fire.” Her conclusion was “Represent your client but keep in mind the big picture.”
Ms. McNeish-Stengel originally hailed from northern New Jersey and relocated to the Baltimore area 30 years ago. She graduated from Catholic University and attended the University of Maryland to obtain her Masters in Social Work.
Fellow screener Carl Smith noted that “Mary is a wonderful addition to the staff. She adds an additional degree of experience and professionalism that will serve parties well.”
Once the next part-time evaluator is hired, Family Support Services will be fully staffed.