KC Children's Emergency Shelter

What is a Children's Emergency Shelter?

When children are taken into state custody, they must be cared for somewhere. In Missouri they are placed temporarily in either an emergency children’s shelter or an emergency foster home. For children coming from traumatic situations like abuse or extreme neglect, a children’s shelter is preferred because shelters offer trained crisis and trauma counselors. Children may stay there from just a few hours to 30 days.

The Gillis Fit

Gillis is a natural candidate to open a children’s shelter. Between 1877 and 1947 hundreds of orphans, foundlings, runaways and even refugee children were brought to Gillis for care. More importantly, in the present day, our campus has the medical equipment and staff to screen children, the trauma trained certified counselors to help them emotionally, and expertise in providing basic care. We are equipped with the playgrounds, gymnasium, musical instruments, art supplies and school to provide recreational, fitness, and educational opportunities to sheltered children and an environment already tailored to the needs of a traumatized child.

Services Offered

  • Children’s Mercy medical clinic on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons
  • Psychiatrist on campus Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Assessments (family, individual, safety, functional, social)
  • Individual, Family, Group Therapies
  • Cooperation with local school districts in activation on McKinney-Vento
  • Supervised family visits
  • Psychological assessments
  • Site for Family Support Team Meetings
  • Transportation of children
  • Bus fare and passes
  • In-home evaluations
  • Respite

The Need

There were and are simply not enough shelter beds to accommodate our community’s need. The lack of shelter space causes lots of problems for these kids. First, the shortage makes it nearly impossible to place siblings together. When a shelter bed isn’t available, children might be placed anywhere in the state, as far away as Springfield or Columbia, making it difficult for family members who care for them to support them. Finally, being taken from one’s home is a critical moment in a troubled child’s life. Getting expert crisis and trauma counseling as soon as possible can make a big difference in the months and years to come.

Those That Are Helped

Any child from infancy to age 18 taken into Missouri Children’s Division custody is a fit. That includes boys, girls, toddlers, teens and teens with toddlers. As a leader in trauma-focused counseling and the treatment of children with Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome or symptoms, Gillis expects to be the preferred placement option for children coming from extreme situations. These children, fresh from traumatic situations are in a critical period of their lives.

How You Can Help

One of the reasons there are not enough shelter beds in our city is the state simply doesn’t reimburse shelter providers with enough to make them viable. Your financial support can insure that kids get what they need when there is nowhere else to go. The KC Children’s Emergency Shelter is also in need of in-kind donations.

Cody and Aubrey

When they were taken into Missouri Children’s Division custody in 2009, they suffered from chaotic situation in their home had Cody already exhibiting symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress syndrome while the children waited with a social worker in a police station to find out where they would be placed. It was obvious that Cody needed the trained counseling available at an emergency children’s shelter.

But there were just no beds available for Cody and Aubrey. They were split up and sent to overcrowded foster placements. Cody’s post-traumatic behavior caused his placement to fail in just two days. He was placed far from any family in Springfield, MO.

If there had only been children’s shelter beds available for these two vulnerable kids, they would have met trained trauma counselors and play therapists and gotten immediate help coping with the harmful and chaotic home they had been taken from. As it was, the lack of shelter beds in our community only resulted in more trauma.

Unfortunately, it was the best Kansas City could do. Gillis is changing that.