By Alicia Neaves
MIDLAND - Just like everyone else, Child Protective Services is short on workers. They've even had to bring in help from out of town. There is such a great need that some of those workers decided to stay on even longer.
CPS recruited caseworkers from all around the state to work in the Permian Basin. Three decided their mission is not yet finished. When NewsWest 9 posed the question: How many more caseworkers do you need here in the Basin? Their response was, "As many as we can get."
"Six months was not enough so we decided to go ahead and stay longer. Because most cases you are with the family for about a year or so and unfortunately we have other children that were with them for more than that," Zaneta Castro, CVS Specialist 2, said.
For families that might be used to one caseworker, locally they're used to six or seven or more.
"I've always been there with the family and that's where my heart is. As much as I can do, I will do," Brandi Tufts, CVS Specialist 2, said.
The high cost of living prompted many CPS staff members to leave. With the booming population, the number of CPS cases boomed as well. The state of Texas is almost 400 caseworkers short. In the Odessa CPS office, eight workers are doing the job of 21, just in investigations. Many children and families had little help.
"These children need to be seen. We have to know that they're breathing, that they're OK. When there were not enough workers to even see them, that hit home with me," Tufts said.
Three CPS caseworkers split from the norm. They fell in love with their jobs here and stayed put for the families. The results are life-changing.
"Our job is to get ourselves out of their lives and to reunify the families. If we are not able to reunify the families, then of course we go to other alternates. But at the same time, seeing those faces on those children is probably the most important part," Castro said.
Shawna Roberts is the third caseworker.
The bond between them and the families, and between them and their co-workers is what keeps them in the Basin until they are needed no longer.