About Invest in Children
What is Invest in Children?
Compelled by a wide body of research demonstrating that the first five years of a child's life are a time of tremendous brain growth, and guided by the recognition that no single agency alone could accomplish the ambitious task of preparing young children for success in school and life, Cuyahoga County and key community leaders came together in 1999 to create the public/private partnership known as Invest in Children.
Invest in Children has been recognized as a leader in early childhood system building within the state and the nation. Many of our programs are evaluated independently by a team at Case Western Reserve University. We work together to help increase the development, funding, visibility and impact of early childhood services in Cuyahoga County, and we aim to achieve equity in access to services and eliminate racial/ethnic disparities in child and family outcomes.
Our Lead Agencies
Invest in Children works hand-in-hand with our Lead Agencies to accomplish our mission. Their work is central to our efforts and they exemplify our model as a public/private partnership. They are:
Connect with Our Staff:
Shawna Rohrman, PhD, Interim Director
Shawna Rohrman is the Interim Director of the Office of Early Childhood/Invest in Children, overseeing an early childhood service continuum from prenatal to kindergarten. She came to Invest in Children in 2017, serving first as Evaluation Manager and more recently as Associate Director. In her time here, Shawna managed a federally funded Pay For Success Feasibility Study, which explored sustainable funding of the Universal Pre-Kindergarten program and demonstrated UPK’s significant impact on kindergarten readiness. She also co-chaired the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition/Healthy Homes Advisory Council Subcommittee on Early Childhood Screening, Testing and Services, convening dozens of community stakeholders to identify paths to improving rates of lead screening and testing.
As Associate Director, Shawna oversees the office’s day-to-day operations including program management, contracting, and invoicing. Shawna graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Baldwin-Wallace University, received a M.A. in Sociology from the University of Akron, and has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Indiana University.
Shauna Dewey, ME.d, MSW, LISW-S -- Early Childhood Mental Health Central Referral Coordinator
Shauna Dewey serves as the Early Childhood Mental Health Central Referral Coordinator for Invest in Children. She triages incoming referrals, assesses the needs of families, links them to services and resources, and coordinates care with community agencies. She has been working with young children and families throughout her career in a wide variety of clinical settings and has a passion for advocating for their needs. She has a Master’s of Social work from Cleveland State University and a Master’s of Education from the University of Cincinnati with an emphasis in Behavior Analysis.
Megan Foradori, RN, MSN, -- Evaluation Manager
Megan is a pediatric nurse who is passionate about using data to find the best evidence-based ways to serve young children and families. In her role, she supports all of the programs in the Invest in Children portfolio and is grateful for the chance to impact the health and education needs of children in our community. She joined Invest in Children in 2022 after her previous roles as a bedside hospital nurse, a researcher, a case manager, and a liaison between pediatric primary care offices and early childhood services. She loves that nurses can wear many 'hats' - and is excited to be a nurse wearing this one! Megan holds a Bachelor's Degree in Biology (Wittenberg University) and a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Nursing (Johns Hopkins University). She is currently pursuing a nursing Ph.D. and an Early Intervention Developmental Specialist certificate at Case Western Reserve University.
Stacy Garlington, MLS -- UPK Program Officer
Staci Garlington has over 25 years working in Higher Education and Medicine in Northeast Ohio and Madison Wisconsin. She joined Invest in Children in 2022 but has been with the county for over 6 years. She assisted with opening and managing a center for people with Parkinson’s disease where she assisted in the research for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for 7 years at the Cleveland Clinic and at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. She earned a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies at Salmon P. Chase College of Law and a Bachelor's Degree in Urban Planning with a focus in Public Management at Cleveland State University. As Program Officer to the Universal Pre-K Program, she is determined to help mitigate the impact that implicit biases bring to underserved communities.
John G. Ladd, MNO -- Program Officer
John Ladd serves as a Program Officer and has responsibility for multiple Invest In Children programs and functions including: Advocacy, outreach, CuyahogaKids.org, the county's Child Fatality Review Program, and our interests in the MomsFirst and Newborn Home Visiting programs. Other duties include, internal and external communications activities, public records compliance, and other special projects. John has worked his entire career in maternal and child health, and joined Invest In Children in June, 2013. John holds a Master of Nonprofit Organizations degree (MNO) from Case Western Reserve University.
Obaro Onokpemuemu, MPA -- Fiscal Specialist
Obaro Onokpemuemu serves as the Fiscal Specialist for Invest in Children. She joined IIC in 2023, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics education (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria) and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Akron. She works with the HHS fiscal team to co-ordinate fiscal and budget activities for the Invest in Children division.
She has 3 years’ experience working as a Business Development Manager with Offshore Oil and Gas co. In addition, she worked 2 years as a student assistant clerk at the University of Akron’s Payroll department and Accounts payable department. She is committed to serving and bringing change to her community.
Katherine Ramirez joined Invest in Children in 2022 and serves as our office Administrative Assistant, with support responsibilities across all Invest in Children programs and staff. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and has prior public service, and early childhood education experience, with both the city of Fontana, and San Bernardino County, California.
Alyssa Swiatek, M.Ed, PC -- Interim Associate Director / Family Engagement Manager
As Family Engagement Manager, Alyssa is responsible for multiple Invest in Children programs and initiatives including Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH), Special Needs Child Care (SNCC), Intensive Special Need Child Care (I-SNCC), Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK), Bright Beginnings' Parent Support Department, Family-Centered Preschool in our award-winning UPK program, and Invest in Children’s most recent family-centered initiative, Family Space. She received a B.S. in Psychology from The Ohio State University and a M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Alyssa is passionate about unlocking every young child’s potential, empowering parents, and providing system level advocacy to meet the needs of all families.
Joy Welch-Bey, M.Ed. -- UPK Program Manager
Joy Welch-Bey serves as the Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) Program Manager for Invest in Children, overseeing the award-winning UPK program, including the budget and expenditures for all UPK sites as well as communication and policy creation for the program and maintaining strategic partnerships within the early childhood education community. She joined Invest in Children in 2023 but has been with Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services for over 10 years, where she has served the public in a variety of roles from Eligibility Specialist to Child Care Licensing Supervisor to ultimately managing the Job and Family Services Hearings Department. She holds a Master of Education degree with an emphasis on Educational Administration, from The University of Akron and is passionate about advocacy and mentoring for children and young adults in underserved communities. She has volunteered with several mentoring programs such as True2U and the College Now Mentoring Program.