Recession creates unexpected gain for children in Child Protective Services

Megan Jephcott, Child Protective Services
Megan Jephcott, Child Protective Services
Amy Lowrance, CPS Conservatorship Worker
Amy Lowrance, CPS Conservatorship Worker

By Sarah Seeley
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - The economic downturn creates an unexpected gain for children in the care of Child Protective Services.

As people across the country are filing for unemployment and trying to find any job available, CPS workers are staying longer than ever before.

Megan Jephcott is considered a seasoned veteran at CPS, but she's only been there for two years.

Before 2009, the stress of the job was too much for most.

"The work hours are very long you don't get to see your family as much as you would at a 8 [am]-5 [pm] job," said Jephcott.  "We do work a lot of overtime."

But now, less than one third of workers are leaving for other professions.

"Right now a lot of people with the recession, they are worried about finding another job, even with a degree, it's not out there right now," said Jephcott.

This was hardest for the kids shuffled around from caseworker to caseworker.

"You go out and see a kid for the very first time, and they're like 'where did my old caseworker go?' And you have to tell them they're no longer with the agency and they don't understand, said Jephcott.

With more caseworkers and lighter loads, those children are able to open up and talk about what is going on.

"When something crazy happens or when they're scared, they don't have to worry about which adult to turn to, [they now know] that you're the one that they can call," said Amy Lowrance, CPS Conservatorship Worker.

Both say no amount of training compares to the real-world experiences of dealing with abused or neglected children.

"The only way to figure out what to do is to actually do it, to get your hands dirty to get in there and to start working with the kids and work with the families," said Lowrance.

Officials at Child Protective Services say they expect the low turnover rate to have a "trickle up" effect for at least the next five years.