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

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021621_NU_FosterCareUpdate
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
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