COLUMBIA — Kelly Wallis, the first director of Boone County’s new Community Services Department, will begin her job on Jan. 6.
"It’s a tremendous opportunity to help implement an innovative approach to providing the best services to children and their families and to have a positive impact on the community," Wallis said.
Wallis, currently the constituent unit program manager for the Children's Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services, said she applied for the Boone County position mainly because it was an opportunity to serve the community in which she lives.
Her vision for the department includes providing services that will prevent children and families from going into crises over problems such as substance abuse, mental health issues and domestic issues, Wallis said.
She wants to look at research in the community, other counties and other states to create evidence-based approaches to make a positive difference in children's lives, she said.
During a Children's Services meeting on Monday at which she was introduced, Wallis heard from members of the Boone County Juvenile Office and the Missouri School Boards' Association. Her takeaway was that there are many in the area dedicated to providing quality services to children, she said.
The full scope of her new responsibilities is developing because the program is being built from the ground up, Wallis said.
A news release from the Boone County Commission said the Community Services Department was created to coordinate the allocation of funds received from a 1/4-cent Children's Services sales tax approved in 2012, Boone Hospital lease revenue designated for health care, domestic violence funds collected through court fees and Community Services funding.
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