Advocates at Community Support Services show unwavering care to individuals with developmental disabilities in the face of COVID-19

By Savanah Bandy

Since 1978, Community Support Services has been dedicated to the compassionate, professional care of individuals with developmental disabilities.

Today, a team of over 300 advocates work directly with special needs individuals in the home and in the community to help them achieve personal goals, develop skills, expand opportunities, provide assistance with daily activities and more. The advocates serve people of all ages, primarily in Jasper and Newton counties but extending into nine other Missouri counties, as well. Their work involves community services, residential services, behavioral services and targeted case management. Community Support Services also offers The Early Learning Center, a childcare and educational facility, and it works closely with First Steps, a program that connects parents of children with possible special needs to resources for their development.

“The folks who do this work for a living have hearts of gold,” said Kirstie Smith, vice president of administrative services for Community Support Services.

“We have seen remarkable commitment from our staff members to work through this pandemic. They have not missed a beat. The individuals we work with are medically fragile and highly susceptible to COVID-19. Early on, we put a protocol in place for a COVID Team of people willing to work in a COVID-positive home. We never once had to activate that team because the existing staff members all stepped up.”

The way the advocates chose to be present for individuals positive with COVID-19 proved to be exceedingly valuable because of the trusting bond that exists between the advocates and each individual they serve.

“They treat our individuals like family. They are that close,” Kirstie said. “If someone has COVID, the family doesn’t necessarily want a stranger taking care of their high-needs loved one.”

Kirstie said getting through the pandemic continues to be a challenge, but she is proud individuals in the care of Community Support Services can rest easy knowing there is a team of extremely compassionate, dedicated people who are there for them through it all.

“In a time of great despair, we have seen some amazing acts of human service and kindness,” she said. “Our hats are off to them. A lot of frontline workers have been noted and celebrated in the media, and we want our folks to understand how special they are, too, and how much we need them.”

Interested in Becoming an Advocate?

At Community Support Services, we don’t have employees — we have advocates. Our advocates work with unparalleled compassion and expertise to advocate on the behalf of the individuals they serve.

If you are interested in a rewarding career with advancement opportunities, tuition reimbursement, sign-on and referral bonuses, and the chance to change someone’s life for the better, consider becoming an advocate with Community Support Services.

Learn more about Community Support Services

Making Opportunities Happen Since 1978!

2312 Annie Baxter Avenue • Joplin, MO

417.624.4515 •