A Closer Look at Child Welfare

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82:3-4)

This month, we would like to shine some light on what it is our Neighbors Who Care team actually does. Sometimes, this constantly-evolving network of elements, resources and partnerships can make it a bit tricky to get a clear picture of what is happening!

 

Neighbors Who Care, in large part, is a team comprised mostly of volunteers and donors from New Life CityChurch in downtown Kansas City, and Cross Points church in Shawnee, KS that desire to reach families in need in the greater KC metro area. One of the most common ways we engage with these hurting men, women and children is by responding to needs that are posted in an online platform called CarePortal (careportal.org). Families in crisis who are facing separation from their children can have their most urgent, practical needs posted there by their social worker for churches and community members to fulfill.  These social workers advocate and work tirelessly to support and build up parents so that they can properly care for their children and keep them out of foster care.

We wanted to spend a little time this month hearing from a couple of social workers who are involved with CarePortal, Jen Kindler and Jessica Latta (taken from a recent CarePortal newsletter):

 

Social workers are committed to ending cycles of abuse and neglect

Every year, millions of U.S. kids are referred to the child welfare system with a staggering 75% of children experiencing neglect. Isolated and overwhelmed parents are struggling to meet the basic needs of their children, and they’re in need of meaningful connection to caring people with the resources to help. “Abuse and neglect are preventable, and that’s why social workers are dedicated to finding solutions to complex problems in order to improve family wellbeing and break cycles for future generations,” says Jen.

Social workers do not interfere in peoples’ lives

Social workers only become involved in a family’s life when either they ask for support or they are referred by a mandated reporter. “A social worker’s job is not policing,” says Jen. We respect the clients we work with and provide services like crisis management, family empowerment, and advocacy to help improve situations so that children can remain with their family whenever safely possible.”

“While social workers advise and provide recommendations for the wellbeing of their clients, they do not make the final decisions on a case. They work in tandem with the court system, and if a child cannot safely remain in their parent’s custody, a judge provides the final ruling to remove the child from the home.

There is no typical day for us

Referrals to the child welfare system come in at all hours of the day. A social worker’s schedule can differ drastically from day to day and include a variety of tasks. “The majority of a social worker’s time is spent out in the community,” says Jessica. “Their day could include meeting with children and parents, supervising visits, attending court hearings, seeking out resources, logging case notes, completing training, and advocating for children and families.”

When we can do our jobs well, children and families win

Social workers are among the most important supports that a child or family in need can have. Providing wrap-around care is much more effective when social workers can practice self-care, manage their caseload, and receive ongoing encouragement and support. “Social workers visit the kids and families on their caseload each month,” says Jessica. “That equates to a lot of traveling and time away from our own families. When the community steps up to meet needs and foster ongoing relationships through CarePortal, it’s a huge help to both the social worker and the family being served.”

While none of us is able to simply provide more social workers to help, we can do much to ease their burden and be that “meaningful connection with the resources to help” that these families so desperately need, every time someone gives a ride, donates a bed or pays a past due utility bill. What a relief for an overloaded worker to save a trip across town to deliver a gift card to one family and get that time back to do more of what they do best! NWC benefits greatly from this relationship too, as social workers provide the experience, gifting and expertise that we at NWC do not have, to help families grow and change in the areas they need most, to keep them together and healthy. NWC gets to come alongside these amazing people as they do this, allowing us to maximize our limited resources and reach the greatest number of families with practical, relational and spiritual support.

 

Thank you for being a part of this life-giving work! To support Neighbors Who Care: