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Adopt-A-Caseworker Program Aims to Highlight Community Awareness of Child Abuse

On Tuesday, the local group Ambassadors for Children announced a program to help abused and neglected children. KSMU's Benjamin Fry reports on how this effort hopes to bring the public to the forefront of this issue.

Too often, child abuse and neglect is something hidden from the public sphere, where knowledge of wrongdoing is only shared by the family and a social worker.

Ambassadors for Children hopes to change that.

Through their new Adopt-A-Caseworker program, community groups will provide support to Greene County Child Protective Services Caseworkers.

Sondra Uzzell is the agency director for Ambassadors for Children.

"These are folks that work tirelessly. They work very hard to provide safety, and I think a lot of times the community doesn't fully understand the nature of their position."

On Tuesday, the Ambassadors for Children met with groups from the community to discuss the program.

Through the Adopt-A-Caseworker program, each group will be paired up with a caseworker.

These individuals will provide the group specifics on what the foster child or family they're working with needs, such as clothing, instruments, or sporting equipment.

Uzzell says caseworkers will be assigned to groups of various sizes based on need of the child or family.

"So if the group rated themselves as a one or a two, meaning low resources, we would probably pair them with a caseworker who had a case load with lower needs."

Besides helping children already in the foster system, Uzzell says the program will also provide assistance to help prevent parents from having their children taken away.

"Which means the caseworker will actually go out and visit the family in their home and do some parent education and some case management to try to keep that family together."

Uzzell says a program like this is one of a kind in Missouri. It was made possible by a federal grant awarded to the Ambassadors for Children.

Only two other grants were given to fund similar programs in South Carolina.

"So it's a pretty big honor. A lot of responsibility but I think it's a great fit for Greene County. We're really excited to make it happen here."

There's plenty of time for groups and individuals who want to get involved with this program.

Matches with caseworkers won't be finalized until next January.

If you want to get involved with the Adopt-A-Caseworker Program, you can contact the Ambassadors for Children at 417-862-3586.

For KSMU news, I'm Benjamin Fry.