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Jerry Doyle in Uplift Family Services' toy roomFred Jerome “Jerry” Doyle, age 80, of Marion, Montana, passed away on August 2. Known for his tireless advocacy of children’s behavioral health challenges and pioneering in-home services in lieu of residential services, he transformed the foster care system and vastly improved both the short and long-term outcomes for children in California.

Born in West Bend, Wisconsin, Jerry originally intended to be a priest, but he left the seminary to attend Loras College and then The University of California, Berkeley for graduate school where he became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and embarked on his lifelong mission to help children and families in crisis.

Jerry initially began working with vulnerable children and teens as director of the Chase House, a residential treatment program for adolescent boys in Madison, Wisconsin, and in the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Division of Family Services. He joined the Eastfield Children’s Center in San Jose (now known as Uplift Family Services) in 1970 and was named Executive Director later that same year. Jerry quickly established himself as one of the foremost advocates for behavioral health services for children and their family members.

In 1991, Uplift Family Services initiated California’s first in-home Wraparound program as an alternative to institutionalized placement for the highest acuity children, and then successfully pushed for legislation that resulted in the program being expanded statewide.

“Jerry led our agency through the radical change from being a residential treatment agency to a community-based agency that valued families and empowered them to have their child remain at home while receiving services. It was a difficult process to make this change, but Jerry never wavered in his faith that this was the best thing for kids and families. His ability to maneuver through the complex bureaucracy of mental health services and form relationships with legislators to effect this change was remarkable, and something we all admired. We knew this because of the caring, genuine relationships he formed with many of us.”

—A former employee

Today, all children in California have access to Wraparound services.

Jerry’s extensive list of appointments and awards includes being appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger as a commissioner on the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission to oversee Prop. 63 mental health funds, and being awarded the national Harold C. Piepenbrink Award for Excellence in Behavioral Healthcare Management. He was president of both the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies and the California Alliance of Children & Family Services. In 2017, Jerry was recognized with a lifetime achievement award at Uplift Family Services’ Silicon Valley Community Awards Luncheon and 150th anniversary celebration.

Jerry retired in 2009 after 39 years at the helm of what is now one of California’s largest children’s services agencies. He earned a nationwide reputation as a champion for children in crisis, and under his leadership, the agency grew from serving 140 children each year to approximately 20,000 children and their family members annually. However, his legacy extends far beyond the agency, impacting vulnerable children and families throughout California every day.

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