Blog post written by: Gary Lasley about his experience working in the social service field, which eventually led him to intern as Family Support Specialist at the Child Protection Center. Gary is cherished by the CPC. We miss having him at the CPC, but know that he is out there doing great things for the world. He is also an avid KU fan! Can you tell?
In 1994, I was a member of the State of Missouri’s Task Force on Poverty which led me to the small towns located in the “bootheel” of the state. At that time, these towns (Hornersville, Hermondale, and Caruth, among others) had a teenage pregnancy rate, along with its unemployment rate, beyond that of the nation’s average. The knowledge gained from that experience fed my drive to become more involved in the ultimate mission of improving the lives of children.
After making the decision to get out of the political arena and pursue social work, my road led me to the Kansas City metropolitan area. Serving as the Public Relations Director, and eventually Assistant Director, of a social service organization in Kansas City, I had the responsibility of overseeing the agency’s operations, services and programs; one of which was a women’s domestic violence shelter. During my tenure, I noticed that many of the women entering the shelter were accompanied by their children. These children were often victims of the abuse as well; physically, emotionally, and sexually. However, because the main focus to the shelter was to empower the women, their children were often overlooked. Although these kids were victims as well, they were often thought to be defiant, oppositional, or just “bad.”
Returning to school to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Welfare from The University of Kansas, I had the opportunity to advance my education surrounding abused children with the Child Protection Center (CPC). During my practicum placement with CPC, I was able to witness the extraordinary work the staff provided the children and their families. Working alongside other professionals from law enforcement and medical fields, the staff remained sensitive to the circumstances of the children while providing confidential, knowledgeable advocacy assistance to their non-offending parent/guardian.
The experience, education, and exposure I gained from observing and working alongside the CPC staff, as well as their collaborative partners, was invaluable. The experience serves as an inimitable foundation as I continue to advocate for children.