Remembering Ellen Constance
Ellen Constance, Director of Child Welfare in the Southern Region, died on July 3 after a short battle with an aggressive form of cancer. Her loss is deeply felt by her family and friends and her colleagues who loved and respected her. Our grief is softened only by the knowledge of the difference she made in the lives of hundreds of children and families in her more than 20 years with Children’s Home & Aid.
A Metro East native, Ellen left the area and her job as a youth services worker at Children’s Home & Aid to attend graduate school at the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams School of Social Work. She then returned to Metro East and Children’s Home & Aid and spent the next two decades working with children and families exposed to abuse and neglect.
“She was such an advocate for families. She was so passionate about keeping families together. It just came across in everything she did,” said Melissa Ludington, Children’s Home & Aid’s former Senior Vice President of Child Welfare. Ellen, Melissa said, “was such a part of the fabric of child welfare in the region.”
Ellen built relationships across organizations to better the lives of children and families. “ Ellen has always been one of the smartest and strongest people I have known since I began my career with DCFS 30 plus years ago. We did not always agree, but she has always been kind and supportive of me. It was never a dull moment with her around,” said a long-time colleague from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. “I am wishing I could turn back time and be in a meeting with her offering expired Easter chocolates and arguing with me again,” she said.
Ellen vibrated with energy and passion, lighting up a room with her smile and laugh. Whether you heard her exclaim “dude!” from across the office or picked up the phone to hear, “Howdy Ma’am,” you were drawn into her orbit and enlisted into her mission of helping families.
“Ellen always pushed me further than I thought I could go and to think more critically than I believed I could,” said Katy Cotts, Foster Care Manager at Children’s Home & Aid.
An early adopter of the agency’s work with the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children – All Families initiative to foster inclusion in our child welfare practice, Ellen was a tireless LGBTQIA+ ally, serving on the agency’s regional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team.
She loved the Oscars, the Emmys, her cats and sweets. Her diet was absent almost any vegetables.
You can celebrate Ellen’s life and share memories of her here.