It is with great sadness that we report the passing of School Social Worker and Home and School Visitor,  Dr. Candice Highfield.  Candice passed away this last week following infection by the Covid-19 virus. 

Candice was the 2013 PASSWP School Social Worker/Home and School Visitor of the Year and had been employed by the Hempfield School District for more than a decade.

Members of the Lancaster County PASSWP network met on Friday to share and support their professional community and also to liaise with colleagues in local districts, administrators and union representatives. Below are their fond memories of Candice’s fearless work. Feel free to leave your memories in the comment forum below. 

Footnote from Peter Fidgett, Past President of PASSWP

In my role as a PASSWP representative and a professional colleague and confidante of Candice Highfield, I had the privilege of attending the Lancaster PASSWP group meeting.  Our colleague, Katie Reiff, HSV/SSW at Conestoga Valley SD took down some of the comments shared at that meeting.  Thanks are also due to Carla DiClemente, also HSV/SSW of CVSD for helping to set up the meeting.  Hopefully. PASSWP will be able to make space on our comments pages for people to add additional thoughts and memories.   

•           “Even if she knew she was putting herself at risk, she always wanted to be a part of the family.”

•           [Candice] “fiercely and passionately” worked in the field

•           [She] “Showed us how to do anything for the kids. So glad she was the one who taught me to do the job. I do my job to the very best of my ability because of Candice. I came to the IU [13] 19 years ago and was lucky enough to be her assistant. We were crawling under a kids bed one of the first days on the job. Anything and everything to make sure the kids I work with succeed to the very best of their ability. We lost one of the very best social workers I’ve ever known”

•           [We have … ] “Lost a friend, lost a mentor”. 

•           Candice often said “Never was afraid to “make waves”.”

•           Candice often said that you are … “Not doing your job unless someone’s angry at you”

•           “Even if she wasn’t your direct mentor, she had that quality, that when you were growing to be a social worker, you wanted to be like Candice.”

•           “She was never afraid to ask for someone else’s advice. She valued this group–from brand new social workers or [colleagues] working in the field for years. She never hesitated to reach out to ask a question or [express an] opinion. She was still available to those older than her to continue to be a resource. She always made time. Valued all of us and the peer group”

Sonnya Nieves, a past President of PASSWP stated:-

“Candice brought such energy and passion to the field of school social work that you could feel it as soon as she walked into a room. She was always a joy to connect with at PASSWP conferences, each time a reminder of how much she loved her work with families and networking with colleagues. She was a bright light in this profession and will be greatly missed by many.”

In 2013, when Candice received the School Social Worker/Home and School Visitor of the year award, her supervisor Dr. Ruth Crawford-Fisher had the following to say regarding her nomination: 

“… Candice readily has answers and resources. She epitomizes the concept of social work in every deed, action, and service she provides. She empowers those who have been marginalized and helps them to thrive with dignity.

She champions those our society too often overlook and seeks to balance the scales of justice and the social service system in their favor. … She takes time to educate people about social work issues, and routinely prepares intern social workers for the “real world of social work”.  Social work is a boots on the ground, grind it out for the thankless praise profession, that’s Candice.  She is humbled by praise, quick to pass it on, and ever moving herself and others in a positive direction.

When Candice was hired by Hempfield, many of our schools had mid 70% to low 80% attendance rates. The state had recently cited the district for not having an HSV. Candice … walked district leaders through the process, created a system that brought schools and families together in a problem solving frame, she helped to conduct professional development for staff, and in only 3 years every district had 95% and higher attendance rates. She’s quick to point out, she didn’t do it alone, but she was most definitely the champion, muscle, and guiding force to its fruition. …”


A Lebanon county native, Candice began her social work career with the Lebanon County CYS abuse unit before working for ChildLine.  She then returned to the Child Abuse Unit in Lebanon as a supervisor for before taking on clinical and supervisory roles at the Adolescent Unit at Holy Spirit Hospital and KidsPeace.  Candice began her work as a School Social Worker with the Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit before coming to Hempfield. Candice gained her Bachelor in Social Work from Shippensburg State University and Masters Degree in Social Work from the University Maryland, Baltimore.   She completed her doctorate in education (Ed. D.) at Immaculata University.


Learn how we helped 100 top brands gain success