As part of Child Welfare Professionals week, Fayette County Children and Youth Services highlighted the efforts of two of their caseworkers.
“This is the piece the community rarely sees as due to the confidentiality restrictions and the sensitivity of the work we do,” said John Fritts, the deputy administrator with Fayette County CYS. “If anyone would spend one day with any of these fine workers, then they would have a newfound respect for what child welfare professionals deal with and the job they do.”
Fritts said Fayette County has 35 caseworkers that handle up to 20 cases at any given time, and he said they all handle their cases with tremendous pride and a tireless work ethic, but when he asked supervisors for caseworkers that have gone above and beyond this year they named Jessica Burden and Demi Burnsworth.
Fayette County CYS Ongoing Supervisor Leigh Ann Shuman said Burden is currently working with a mother and her adult son and his paramour to WIC up in the county, and assisting them with housing and other services.
“Jessica took them housing applications, got her WIC transferred, and provided the information for community services,” Shuman said. “She has helped both families with food during the pandemic.”
Shuman added that Burden is often helping people that aren’t involved with CYS. She aided families by giving them food and formula and even dropped off activity packets to each of those families during the pandemic, stored furniture in her garage until families move into their new homes and picked up families who have been stranded at Children’s Hospital with no other way home.
“Jessica never stops helping the families she is working with,” Shuman said. “She is a true example of a human services worker.”
“Although such recognition is not needed, it is greatly appreciated,” Burden said, adding that she’s blessed to have the opportunity to reach so many families. “It’s easy to go above and beyond when the reward is seeing the difference you make in others’ lives.”
Fayette County CYS Intake Supervisor Becca Pegg said Burnsworth did not hesitate to put forth every effort to be with a 3-month-old baby to ensure the safety of the child.
“Though the response was in regards to a sibling and there were no direct allegations for this specific infant child at the time of response, Demi worked tirelessly for hours throughout the evening into early morning in order to see this child and assess for any signs of child abuse or neglect,” Pegg said.
Pegg added that Burnsworth, in collaboration with law enforcement, was successful by finding that this infant was in need of immediate medical care due to neglect.
“Demi then assured that the child was taken for treatment immediately,” Pegg said, adding that Burnsworth completed her tasks without complaint or hesitation. “Due to Demi’s diligent casework, this child is now healthy and thriving.”
Burnsworth said being recognized for the work she has done is an honor and it lets her know that her work does not go unnoticed by those around her.
“Although it is nice to be praised for my work, that is not why I do this job,” Burnsworth said. “I do it because I want to make a change in the community.”
She added that those really tough workdays are actually what drives her to keep going.
“A hard day at work typically means I’ve made a positive change in a child’s life,” she said. “That positive change keeps me going and makes it all worth it at the end of the day.”
Fritts said not only could he give such examples from each of the county’s CYS caseworkers, but added the nine supervisors and the two program specialists are also the backbone of the agency.
“These are only a few examples of the dedication that each and every employee in the agency embodies from the support staff to the caseworker staff to the supervisors,” Fritts said.