Team Member Spotlight - Shelli Walrod

Team Member Spotlight - Shelli Walrod

Shelli Walrod is a family preservation program director at our Pittsburg, KS location. Her team works tirelessly keeping children safe and families together. Shelli and her family, which includes her husband, two daughters and two granddaughters, enjoy spending time at Table Rock Lake, watching their youngest daughter play softball and attending theater productions. Shelli loves reading, gardening, refurbishing furniture and performing in theatre productions.

How long have you been working with children and families?
I began my work with children and families upon graduating from college in 1998. My first position was as a case manager for a welfare to work program and I have since worked mostly in-home visitation and early childhood education, mainly in management positions. I have a passion for growing people, guiding staff in their work with at-risk families and building relationships with community partners. I believe there is no harder work than that which we do, yet no greater reward than seeing staff and families succeed!

What is Family Preservation and why is it important?
I believe whole-heartedly in the mission of Family Preservation Services, which is to work with and support families in being able to safely keep their children in their home, versus entering into foster care. Most of the families we serve just need support, guidance, education and resources in order to create a safe environment for their children. We work closely with our community partners and local resources to surround families with all necessary services to ensure the safety of their children.

What inspires you to keep going?
Personal experiences in my childhood inspired me to help children and families who are facing trauma and other risk factors. What continues to inspire me are my teammates, who work so hard to ensure we are supporting families in being successful and safe. I thrive on hearing of the successes that staff have assisted families in achieving and that keeps me motivated to work even harder.

Can you share a success story?

We received a referral for a single mom, Andi* and her two-week-old baby Landen*, the family was homeless and staying in a friend’s garage. The only thing this mom had were a few diapers and a bassinette for the baby to sleep in. She had no housing options and did not have her birth certificate or social security card. She had no transportation and no hope. 

The Family Preservation Specialist contacted this mother immediately and met with her the very next day to do the 48 hour visit and Initial Service Plan. This is when she discovered that this mom literally had nothing and was not connected to any resources in the community. Heather began working with mom on an application for housing through the Catholic Charities Rapid Rehousing program. She assisted mom in completing her WIC paperwork and obtain her WIC card. They applied for food stamps and Medicaid and made a mental health appointment for the next week. Heather utilized the CarePortal (an online donation site where churches support requests for family needs) and obtained donations for clothing and baby items. Pediatrician appointments were also made for baby Landen.

This mom has a lovely bond with her baby, and the Family Preservation team has witnessed the parent-child interactions, which are very loving and displays strong attachment. Our team has done phenomenal work with this family and mom is feeling less-stressed and able to focus more on her baby. We are confident that this will be a successful case closure by the end of services.