© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jackson County child case workers are 'swamped and drowning' amid staff shortage

Corinne Boyer
Kansas News Service

The Jackson County Children's Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services is short hundreds of staff, resulting in overwhelmed case workers and reduced visits between biological parents and their children in foster care.

With almost 900 children in foster care and only 19 case workers, families in Jackson County receive less visitation time while social work takes an emotional toll on overwhelmed employees.

Laura Ziegler, KCUR's community engagement editor, reported on the issue. Ziegler found that biological parents fight for time with their children and follow court orders to facilitate reunification, but case worker turnover limits communication and visitation.

Family court attorney Laurie Snell explained that the law requires regular visits and extended time apart affects the well-being of children and parents. However, social workers must supervise visits, and with an average 40 to 50 cases per person when the industry standard is 15, the workload is overwhelming.

  • Laura Ziegler, community engagement editor, KCUR
  • Laurie Snell, family court attorney
Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Hannah Cole is an intern with KCUR's Up To Date.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.