Pierce County Father Honored with ‘Engaging Father’ Award

June 13, 2024
child sits on father's neck waving his arms together, flies like an airplane.

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) recognized a father this week who turned his life around as he fought to regain custody of his daughter. 

Joon Han was honored as the recipient of DCYF’s Engaging Father Award this week after receiving four nominations from DCYF caseworkers, a guardian ad litem, and the foster parent who cared for his daughter. The award recognizes fathers who actively engage in treatment or demonstrate positive behavioral changes that lead to successfully regaining custody of their children.

According to Han’s advocates, Han faced many challenges in his life including losing family members and turning to substances as a means of coping with his loss, which eventually led to the removal of his daughter. 

Through his participation in Pierce County’s Family Recovery Court (FRC) and engagement with DCYF caseworkers, Han gained sobriety, attended parenting classes, and secured housing, a job, and a car. His impressive efforts led to a successful reunification with his young daughter.

“Joon met every task and completed every goal with enthusiasm and determination,” wrote the foster parent. “He acts and makes all of his decisions with his daughter on the forefront of his mind. His love for his daughter is immense and I know he will continue to be her biggest supporter and her biggest advocate.”

Han was honored at DCYF’s annual Engaging Father Award ceremony, held the Wednesday before Father’s Day. 

Today, Joon is a proud, present father with the tools and encouragement to not only successfully parent his daughter, but to mentor other fathers beginning the FRC process. 

"We got to watch Joon grow into the man and father he is today,” said DCYF Racial Equity & Social Justice Administrator Alishia Agee-Cooper, who was one of the nominators. “Joon broke a cycle. He reminds us that change is possible. He advocated for himself, chose to better himself, and now gives back to his community.”

During the virtual ceremony, Han shared his gratitude for everyone who supported him along the way. 

“I am glad for Family Recovery Court that started my foundation for becoming a better father,” Han said. “I still learn every day. Thank you for this award.”

The Engaging Father award is part of DCYF's Engaging Fathers project, an engagement effort for fathers with children in the child welfare system. DCYF received dozens of nominees from caseworkers, family members, and providers for fathers across the state who have had a successful outcome with their child welfare cases.

Research shows that when fathers are involved in their children's lives, especially their education, children learn more, perform better in school, and exhibit healthier behavior. 

"The fact that we had so many nominations for this award says a lot about how despite what some may think, there are many fathers out there who chose to engage, get the support they need and are actively trying to reunite with their children."

To learn more, visit the Engaging Fathers webpage.