Commission examines foster care services

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2023

Intern praised for work at courthouse

A delegation from Lawrence County recently visited a residential child care facility in Chicago, in order to study what takes place there and to improve foster services locally.

Commissioner DeAnna Holliday said that she, along with Lawrence County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Patricia Sanders, county children’s services administrator Missy Evans and county executive assistant Dylan Bentley, visited the Mooseheart facility.

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Mooseheart is founded and operated by the Order of the Moose, and was described by Bentley as the “god standard” for services.

Holliday said that children are provided education, recreation, church services and other needs there, in addition to housing.

“It is all-encompassing for what a child needs,” she said.

She noted that some of the children who are there come from single mothers, who are unable to provide for them, and that they temporarily stay at the facility until the mother “can get on their feet” to support them.

Holliday said, in addition to providing better services to those who already in foster care, the county wants to be “proactive” and look for ways “to keep a child from entering the system.”

She said that one of the largest underlying conditions is poverty.

“We have a lot of that in Lawrence County,” she said, describing Mooseheart as a “fantastic model” for what could be offered. 

The commission also heard from Connor Waller, a St. Joseph High School graduate and Marshall University student who has been interning with them.

Waller said the position has allowed him to see the value of public service and thanked the county for his time there.

Among the projects he has been involved with are a draft of an online business incubator, attending Impact Prevention’s Party in the Parks events and a study of counties across the nation to see what Lawrence County could learn from them for things such as tourism and economic development.

Waller said of the thousands of counties, a list of 15 were selected, and, from those, he had been looking particularly at one county in North Carolina, one in Maryland and Berkeley and Putnam counties in West Virginia.

Holliday, who said she has been an “early cheerleader” of Waller since high school, thanked him for his service and said he has created “living documents” that will be of good use to the county.

Commission President Colton Copley told him the county “really appreciates the work you have out in.”

“And we a re glad you got good experience and can take that forward,” he said.

The commission concluded the meting by hosting an executive session.