Why do you do what you do?
As a judge and a community volunteer, my focus is the well-being and success of our children. Having worked in this field for quite a while, experience has shown me that we are much more successful if we work with children before they get into trouble — because once a child’s life has come apart, it is very difficult to put it back together. Preventing delinquency through early intervention has become the guiding principle in my work as a Family Court judge and as a community volunteer. My belief is that the earlier we as a community provide intervention for a troubled child, the better the chances for that child to participate in wholesome, positive activities, build assets and get on the right track with the right peers. Many of the troubled children we see in Family Court have been subjected to overwhelming trauma in their lives, be it physical, emotional or sexual. We are learning more every day about the way trauma negatively impacts children and adults. We are also learning that a first step in working with troubled children is dealing with their trauma so that they can begin to heal. For these reasons, I believe that I must do more than sit in a courtroom hearing cases. I must also be involved in the community, fostering these ideas and advocating for our children to become well-adjusted and successful through early, positive intervention. I believe my most important job is to work diligently to prevent kids from ever coming to me in the courtroom.
What is on your bucket list?
My goal is to help Stark County continue its cutting-edge work with children. This includes working to make our community truly trauma-informed through education and training that reaches out to families, educators, school and medical personnel, counselors, therapists and social-service agencies. I also plan to continue to volunteer at the local, state and national level to bring innovative ideas and programs back to Family Court and to our community.
What is on your mind?
I am proud of our community and the work we have accomplished on behalf of our children. We are fortunate that our local United Way chooses to fund evidence-based programs that are proven to bring about real change for children and families. We are blessed to have the Sisters of Charity Foundation, whose work in early childhood care and education is cutting-edge. We are privileged that our community’s child-serving agencies work collaboratively and creatively to provide the best and most effective services for kids. Because our community is forward-thinking and willing to work together in the best interest of our children, Stark County has developed an outstanding reputation throughout the state and across the country. I want this good work to continue.
ABOUT JUDGE HOWARD
Who: The Honorable Michael L. Howard
What: Administrative judge, Domestic Relations Division, Stark County Family Court
Education: Bachelor of Arts in economics from Ohio Wesleyan University; Juris Doctorate from the Akron University School of Law
Community Boards: Executive Committee and chairman of the Leadership Committee for United Way of Greater Stark County; secretary for Stark Education Partnership; Executive Committee for Stark County Care Team; chairman, Stark County Traumatized Child Task Force; trustee emeritus of the Canton Museum of Art; appointed to the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board of Character and Fitness, which oversees admission to the Ohio bar; member of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence, and the Stark County Bar Association Family Law and Citizenship committees; serves on the advisory board and the Justice Consortium of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
Honors: Distinguished Alumnus of Kent State University, Stark Campus; inducted into the North Canton Hall of Distinction; received the Gold Key Award for outstanding community service from the United Way of Greater Stark County.
In addition: Howard has co-authored “Children Who Have Been Traumatized: One Court’s Response,” which appeared in the Juvenile and Family Court Journal. He is also co-author of “Complex Trauma and Mental Health in Children and Adolescents Placed in Foster Care: Findings from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network,” which appeared in the Child Welfare Journal.