JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. — This month Thursday’s Child looks a little different.
Instead of helping a child find a home, Jackson County asked for our help. Right now they are going through a staffing crisis and are hoping to fill positions to help kids in need.
Each month FOX4 brings you the story of a child either from Jackson County or Kansas. This month we didn’t have a child’s story to share.
The Children’s Division says it is strapped for time and resources. Identifying children for Thursday’s Child has become more and more difficult due to vacancies growing in their staff.
Abigail Walsh is an investigator with Jackson County’s Children’s Division. She’s been in her role for about a year and a half.
“We probably lost about half of our staff,” Walsh said. “We are struggling to hire investigators and alternative care workers. What that means is we have less people to go out into the field and meet our children and families we work with.”
Children’s Division tells FOX4 there are kids in the system in serious need of adoption. However, with their current staffing crisis identifying those children takes a backseat to immediate needs.
“It can be overwhelming. It’s one of those things were you have to take it second by second. You have to truly just sit down and make a gameplan,” Walsh said.
Walsh says sometimes she gets ten cases in a day. Other days that number can be 50. Right now she has one hundred cases sitting on her desk for her to investigate and make a determination on.
“I think this position requires somebody that has an open heart and an open mind,” Walsh says.
Children’s Division needs investigators like Walsh. She’s a recent graduate of the University of Central Missouri with a degree in political science.
“I knew that it was something that I could make an impact in somebody’s life and it was something I wanted to do,” Walsh said.
She says to be an investigator you need a bachelor’s degree and a heart for helping kids and families.
“Whether it be somebody who is willing to sit on the phone for thirty or forty minutes at a time or meet with a family and just listen to them tell you about what they’re struggling with. I think it really requires that shoulder. You’re putting your shoulder out for families to lean on and cry on if necessary, and I think that’s the biggest quality that we’re looking for,” Walsh said.
Walsh says there are roughly 20 positions just in their office that are vacant. Last year that number was ten or fewer. She says counties across the state are facing similar issues.
“It’s hard. It’s really unfortunate that we’re in the situation that we’re in. I know that there are children that deserve families. That deserve love. It’s incredibly unfortunate that we can identify those children and provide them a better situation because of where we’re at with our situation,” Walsh said.
For her, children’s safety is the most important part of her job. She’s hoping others feel the same and apply.
“It would mean everything if we had more people to do that. That means more children are being seen and potentially saved,” Walsh said.
If you want to apply to work with Children’s Division you can fill out an application online. These positions are full time and offer health, vision and dental insurance.
On February 24th, Children’s Division is holding a hiring event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are offering immediate interviews and job offers. The event is at the Full Employment Council at 1740 on the Paseo. You are asked to bring your resume, transcripts, and three references.
Interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Missouri?
- Cornerstones of Care specializes in Standard and Career Foster Licenses at 1-855-SRV-KIDS (855-778-5437) or visit their website.
- Crittenton Children’s Center (Saint Lukes) focuses on medical homes, homes that can accommodate sibling groups, and homes for older youth (age 12 and up).
- If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Virginia Fatseas at (816) 986-5209
- Missouri Alliance offers elevated needs training (Level A & B) to our Resource Families. They also train our foster parents in TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) as well as SOS (Signs of Safety).
- If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Karie Scott-Roark email: KRoark@MA-CF.org.
- Great Circle Behavioral Health for Children & Families does foster care licensing for prospective foster parents.
- If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Jaqueline Brown at (816) 255-1503 or Jacqueline.Brown@greatcircle.org
Interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Kansas?
- KVC Kansas
- To become an adoptive parent you can find more information by calling (888) 655-5500.
- To become a foster parent you can sign up for a class or learn more through their website.
- Cornerstones of Care
- To become an adoptive or foster parent you can contact Denise Gibson at (913) 209-5923 or email her at email@example.com.
Want to see more children who are looking for a family?
Want to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster children in the metro?
According to CASA’s website, a court appointed special advocate make a life-changing different for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Each volunteer is appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in court.
Their volunteers help judges develop a fuller picture of each child’s life. Their advocacy enables judges to make the most well-informed decision for each child.
- Jackson County CASA
- Clay County CASA: To volunteer with Clay County CASA, contact the Program Director, Ashley Zugelter, at 816-736-8400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- CASA of Lafayette & Saline Counties: To volunteer with 15th Judicial Circuit CASA, contact the Executive Director, Robin McGinnity Connelly, at 660-259-2590 or email email@example.com. You can also visit their Facebook page.
- CASA of Wyandotte & Johnson Counties
- CASA of Atchison & Leavenworth Counties: To volunteer contact the Executive Director, Kelly Meyer, at (913) 651-6440 or email her at Lv1casa@sbcglobal.net.
- Douglas County CASA: To volunteer contact the Executive Director, Diana Frederick, at (785) 832-5172 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to reach out to Sherae? For business inquiries or questions that are unable to be answered through this article, you can reach out to Sherae Honeycutt, the host of Thursday’s Child, by email at email@example.com.