With distance learning, local daycares seeing an increase in children during pandemic

DE SOTO, Kan. — Original Post

With many districts moving toward distance learning daycares may be seeing an increase in kids. Not only that, but a change in curriculum. It’s changing the way one De Soto day care does business.

Once the pandemic hit they lost nearly all of their kids. Lexi Michael, the daycare director, says when parents returned to work the numbers went up.

“We became essential,” Michael said. “We became a priority, and everyone realized that they need us. We’re not just here to watch their kids. We’re here to teach them.”

Now with school heading back into session they are seeing a different kind of clientele — kids that would normally be in school.

“If I get two more kids then I will have to open up another classroom because we can only have twelve in a classroom,” Michael said. “If I get more children from Olathe, Shawnee Mission, De Soto, any of the surrounding areas I will have to open up another classroom for just school age.”

She says most parents aren’t pleased. While kids were going to public school for nearly free, now school comes with a new price tag.

“It’s just going to be a big financial burden for all families,” Michael said.

Daycare educators will be helping students with distance learning in Kindergarten through third grade curriculum as they navigate distance learning.

“I’m hoping just this first semester its going to be online, and then by December they can come up with a new plan and send all these kids back to school, because they do need the social interaction,” Michael said.

Michael is hoping by the second semester kids can get out of daycare and back to class.

Local groups offering child care options for working Johnson County parents as school starts

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Original Post

If you’re a working parent in Johnson County, you might still be trying to figure out what this school year will look like.

With some schools opting for distance learning, some parents can’t work from home while their kids learn online. 

Johnson County Parks & Recreation works with Olathe, Shawnee Mission, Gardner and De Soto school districts on before- and after-school care for school-aged kids.

“Those people that are working — we need them in our communities, and they need places for their kids to go,” said Jennifer Anderson, the department’s services manager. “We’re doing our best to have spots for those kids to make sure they are safe, and make sure our staff is safe as well.

They expect around a 50% decrease in students because some parents are able to work from home, but they understand others can’t.

They’re offering different programs that range from just before and after school, to partial distance learning, and complete distance learning.

“We’ve seen some decrease just because people are making other arrangements and being able to work from home, but there is still a huge need for service like ours,” Anderson said.

The YMCA is offering a program called Y Academy, which is similar to the parks department’s Out of School Time program. Steven Scraggs, the senior vice president of youth development services for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, said they’re working directly with schools to help bridge the gap.

“Y Academy will be a combination of traditional YMCA Y Club programming in the morning and afternoon, while during the middle of the school day we’ll navigate the learning that students are taking part in as they work on their devices, working with their teachers virtually, and we’re there to support,” Scraggs said.

Both have sliding scales for price based on the need. Some are by the day, and others are by the week. Both Anderson and Scraggs said they want parents to know even if they have to work, there’s a safe place for their kids to go.

Thursday’s Child: Sweet 14-year-old looking for family in her most formative years

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — Original Post

Fourteen-year-old Natalie is an incredible young woman dreaming of parents who will love her forever.

She hopes 2020 is more than her first year of high school. She hopes it is also the year she can say, “I found my family.”

On a perfect day, there is nothing better than spending it with Natalie. The sweet, kind and respectful teen is just as sweet as a scoop of ice cream at Poppy’s Ice Cream & Coffee House in Lee’s Summit. She picked cotton candy. 

  • Picture of Sherae and Natalie doing cheers with spoonsNatalie and Sherae cheers over their sweet treats at Poppy’s Ice Cream & Coffee House in Lee’s Summit. Photography by Rebecca Lassiter Photography.Read More »
  • Picture of Natalie enjoying cotton candy ice creamNatalie enjoys cotton candy ice cream while talking to Sherae about her hopes and dreams at Poppy’s Ice Cream & Coffee House in Lee’s Summit. Photography by Rebecca Lassiter Photography.Read More »
  • Picture of Sherae and Natalie doing cheers with spoonsNatalie and Sherae cheers over their sweet treats at Poppy’s Ice Cream & Coffee House in Lee’s Summit. Photography by Rebecca Lassiter Photography.Read More »
  • Picture of Natalie enjoying cotton candy ice creamNatalie enjoys cotton candy ice cream while talking to Sherae about her hopes and dreams at Poppy’s Ice Cream & Coffee House in Lee’s Summit. Photography by Rebecca Lassiter Photography.Read More »

Natalie enjoys cotton candy ice cream while talking to Sherae about her hopes and dreams at Poppy’s Ice Cream & Coffee House in Lee’s Summit. Photography by Rebecca Lassiter Photography.Read More »

Natalie wants something in life that many kids have — a family. Having that would mean a never ending source of love and kindness.

“What I hope is I have a loving family that will love me forever, and that I will never be split apart from them,” Natalie said.

She is nearly 15-years-old. She loves to draw, learn and write. Her favorite animal is a wolf because she loves the way they look and howl. Natalie likes to play outside and imagine. She is happiest when she is playing outside with her friends, and she enjoys school. Science is her favorite subject.

Her ideal family would have parents, a few siblings, and she would love to live on a farm if possible. She likes chickens, horses and cows. Natalie enjoys being able to care for them.

“It feels good. It feels like you’re getting the job done,” Natalie said.

When she grows up, she wants to be a veterinarian, where she can care for all kinds of animals. She wants to make sure they are in good health and are taken care of by their parents.

Natalie said she knows she only has a few years left before she’s an adult, but these next three years are important.

“They can be there when I get a car and a job,” Natalie said. “Maybe they can help me through the process.”

Natalie believes in her heart there is a family out there for her, and she can’t wait to meet them.

“Wherever they are, whatever family is going to adopt me soon — I love them to the moon and back. Maybe to a million trillion galaxies beyond and back,” Natalie said.

She hopes that, with their help, she will soar.

  • Picture of Natalie smilingPhotography by Rebecca Lassiter Photography.Read More »
  • Picture of Natalie and Sherae flying a kitePhotography by Rebecca Lassiter Photography.Read More »
  • Picture of Natalie standing against a wallPhotography by Rebecca Lassiter Photography.Read More »
  • Picture of Natalie smilingPhotography by Rebecca Lassiter Photography.Read More »
  • Picture of Natalie and Sherae flying a kitePhotography by Rebecca Lassiter Photography.Read More »

Photography by Rebecca Lassiter Photography.Read More »

Want to adopt her?

If you’re interested in learning more about how to adopt Natalie, please get in touch with Megan Fisher, the Adoption Coordinator for Jackson County at 816-889-2144.

Interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Missouri?

  • Cornerstones of Care specializes in Standard and Career Foster Licenses at  1-855-SRV-KIDS (855-778-5437) or visit their website.
  • Crittenton Children’s Center (Saint Lukes) focuses on medical homes, homes that can accommodate sibling groups, and homes for older youth (age 12 and up).
  • If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Virginia Fatseas at (816) 986-5209
  • Missouri Alliance offers elevated needs training (Level A & B) to our Resource Families.  They also train our foster parents in TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) as well as SOS (Signs of Safety).
  • If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Karie Scott-Roark email: KRoark@MA-CF.org.
  • Great Circle Behavioral Health for Children & Families does foster care licensing for prospective foster parents.
  • If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Jaqueline Brown at (816) 255-1503 or Jacqueline.Brown@greatcircle.org

Interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Kansas?

Want to see more children who are looking for a family?

Want to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster children in the metro?

According to CASA’s website, a court appointed special advocate make a life-changing different for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Each volunteer is appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in court.

Their volunteers help judges develop a fuller picture of each child’s life. Their advocacy enables judges to make the most well-informed decision for each child.

Missouri

Kansas

Want to reach out to Sherae?

For business inquiries or questions that are unable to be answered through this article, you can reach out to Sherae Honeycutt, the host of Thursday’s Child, by email at sherae.honeycutt@fox4kc.com.

Families, victims who’ve seen offenders charged speak out in support of Operation: LeGend

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

Families and victims touched by Operation LeGend are speaking out.

On Monday, they said they’re grateful for the federal agents in Kansas City helping local police solve crimes and bring closure. 

Chautill Wallace, the mother of Chieynne Wallace, is asking people to stop fighting with each other and find a way to work through their differences so no one else ends up like her daughter. 

Chieynne was a bright mother of two little girls. She was also Kansas City’s 112th homicide of 2020.

“Chieyenne lit the whole room up with her smile,” Wallace said. “Chieyenne was the life of the party. He dimmed our life when he did that. We have to do something different.”

Chieyenne Wallace died on July 24 at the Cloverleaf Apartments. KCPD said prosecutors charged Michael Skinner with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. His arrest came because of help through Operation: LeGend.

“I’m thankful for it. I mean, I’m thankful for it,” Chautill Wallace said. “I’m thankful for the department. I’m thankful for whoever spoke up. I’m thankful for everything. I’m wishing for all the families who haven’t had closure I wish they have the same closure I have right now.”

One victim shared her story through a written statement. On July 28, police say a woman armed with an AK-47 carjacked her on the Country Club Plaza in the parking garage above True Food Kitchen.

“I’m sure if I had tried to make any sudden movements to try and defend or fight off the carjacker, she would have pulled the trigger,” she said in her statement.

Federal prosecutors charged Maricela Lozano with carjacking and using a firearm during a crime. KCPD said with federal help, they’ve been able to solve more crimes with extra eyes on their cases.

“We’ve had an increase in homicides. We’ve had an increase in fatal shootings,” Sgt. Jake Becchina said. “That adds to the plate of every detective working those, so having our federal partners come in has been very helpful.”

Skinner’s case is currently sealed, but he’s charged in Jackson County. KCPD said federal agents are helping them interview witnesses and track down evidence at most crime scenes in the city.

Niece fears the worst for Prairie Village woman missing for over a year

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — Original Post

There’s a new twist in the case of a missing Prairie Village woman. Her niece is speaking out and fearing the worst. 

Michelle Guo said she’s heard five stories about what happened to her aunt, Angela Green. Some involve her being in the hospital, that she died of a stroke, and even that she’s out partying with friends.

However, her family said she’s a homebody who wouldn’t even drive alone at night.

Guo has happier memories of her aunt from when she was a child. They spent a lot of time together going to the park, museums and when she would pick her up from school. READ MORE: Daughter of missing Prairie Village woman aching for answers as disappearance surpasses a year 

“I remember she was a really cool aunt. I remember she would give us snacks or toys. I always just looked up to her,” Guo said. “I always thought she was so cool.”

She said her grandparents introduced her aunt to Geoff Green while he was living in China. Then in her 20s, her aunt came to America.

“She had 90 days to get married to Geoff when she arrived to the U.S. So the wedding was fairly quick,” Guo said.

Guo said in February of this year, her mom got a call from her cousin Ellie, who is Angie and Geoff’s daughter. 

“She was like, ‘Hold on, Ellie is on the other line, and she told me that your aunt is dead,’” Guo said.BACKGROUND: Prairie Village woman reported missing eight months after disappearance 

The family thought they would need to rush to Prairie Village for a funeral, but that’s when Ellie told them she’d been dead for months — passing away in July 2019.

“I just felt like something was wrong,” Guo said.

Ellie said her dad told her to keep Angela’s death a secret, but she got fed up and felt the family deserved to know.

Guo helped Ellie figure out there was no death certificate. They both contacted Prairie Village police. They said Angie’s husband Geoff Green told police Angela wasn’t dead but instead partying with friends.

“She would never do anything like that. It’s not in her character. It’s not in her nature,” Guo said.

She said Green won’t call them back and won’t tell them where her aunt is. They do know Prairie Village police served two warrants in connection with Angela’s disappearance: one on the family home and another at a lot where Green stores vintage cars. 

FOX4 went to Green’s house to ask if he knew where Angela was, but he didn’t want to comment and closed the door. 

“Our main goal is not only to figure out if Angie is alive and safe, but also to try to figure out if she’s not, what happened and how to bring her some sort of justice,” Guo said.

She said her uncle is the key to finding her aunt. The family will accept any answer as long as it’s the truth.

“It would mean so much to me, especially after everything we’ve been told, and I know it would mean so much to Ellie because she cries every day,” Guo said. “She has to go back and forth thinking, ‘Is my mom dead? Is she not? Where is she?’”

There are no arrests in this case, and no charges filed.

FOX4 requested documents relating to both warrants filed and her missing person’s case but were denied, citing an ongoing investigation.

Police say tips are coming in but they want more, and you can remain anonymous. Anyone with information is encouraged to call Prairie Village police at 913-642-6868 or contact the anonymous Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

Concern for doctors as metro hospitals see increase of COVID-19 patients

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post, Aug. 11, 2020

A record number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, and now concerns for some of the doctors treating them.

The University of Kansas Health System says they have the most coronavirus patients they’ve seen during the pandemic. Tuesday the hospital reported 39 admitted patients, 11 of them in the intensive care unit and eight on ventilators.

St. Lukes’ Health System says it’s hospitals have 54 patients. On Monday that number was at 63. Truman Medical Center has fewer hospitalizations at 26, eight of them in the ICU.

Steven Stites, MD, the Chief Medical Officer at the University of Kansas Health System says they are handling the cases now, but worry numbers could rise.

“You have the power,” Stites said. “You have the ability to make this stop.”

Doctors say wearing your mask, social distancing, and washing your hands will make all the difference.

While some hospitals are seeing a rise, others see a decline.

“We’ve seen a bit of a decline over the last two weeks we were at a high of 36 to two weeks ago,” said Mark Steele, MD, Executive Clinical Office at Truman Medical Center.

“If everybody wore a mask, if we all wash our hands, we can stop this outbreak even before we get to a vaccine,” Dr. Rex Archer, Director of the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department said.

Archer said he’s concerned heading into the school year and flu season that numbers could rise.

“There will not be enough staff and hospital beds. And we will have to be triage beds for folks and nobody wants that,” Archer said.

Doctors say the greatest weapon to fighting the spread are simple things that can save lives.

“It’s the same thing we’ve been doing for over a hundred years with infection prevention control,” Stites said. “Wear a mask, wash your hands, stay distanced, do the things that worked in the flu pandemic of, oh wait, 1918. We can stop it in its tracks.”

The Health System says their patients range in ages. The youngest is 18.

With KCKPS starting virtually, program to help homeless students working even harder

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Original Post

For students across the metro, going back to school may mean staying home, but what if you don’t have one?

Kansas City, Kansas, School District’s McKinney-Vento Program aims to help homeless students. 

KCKPS will begin the school year with 100% virtual learning. Jessica Smith with McKinney-Vento said the pandemic is affecting their outreach to kids who need their help.

She said the halls at school may be more familiar to some kids than where they sleep at night.

“They could be bouncing around from house to house,” Smith said. “They could literally be sleeping in their car, under a bridge, behind a building.”

Smith said more than 800 students are considered homeless in the district. This means they are living without a guardian or a stable place to live. This could be a child living with a person who is not their guardian, living from couch to couch, or living on the street.

Foster children are not a part of the program as they live with a guardian weather that is the state, a family member or foster parents.

Smith said the pandemic is making their job harder. She said when they found out the school would close for in-person learning last spring, she was scared. 

“I think I cried the first week. I called my boss in tears often,” Smith said.

She said children and families without a stable place may have fewer options. With the pandemic, it’s not easy to stay at home when your home isn’t yours.

“We might have two or three adults at home all day,” Smith said. “Five or six kids at home all day. I was very nervous about the families who would say, ‘OK, now you’ve got to get out. It’s too much for me.’”

While things are not good now, Smith said this fall she expects numbers — and need — to rise.

“We have anticipated somewhere around September, October when there will be a lot of foreclosures on homes, when things like that happen we anticipate that we will see upper middle class, mid-middle class families may need some services especially when we return back to buildings,” Smith said.

The program provides food, hygiene products, clothing and resources to kids in need. One of the major services they provide is transportation. Smith said they do their best to make sure children can be bused to their school to make sure there is normalcy.

“I know we’re going to not catch all of them,” Smith said. “I know that teacher they trusted a lot they don’t get to see that teacher, and they don’t get to tell that teacher they’re struggling.”

Smith said most districts have a similar program, and the hardest part is parents asking for help. 

“I want people to know we are here,” Smith said. “For me I think that is the biggest thing. We’re here. Period. That’s it.”

The program is accepting donations. They are not accepting clothing donations due to the pandemic, but there are several items that are extremely helpful:

  • Food: non-perishable items like Cup of Noodle soups, granola bars, oatmeal.
  • School supplies, backpacks
  • Hygiene products: Deodorant is the number one needed item. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc..

Items can be sent directly to the KCKPS office, located at 2010 N. 59 St., Kansas City, KS 66102.

If you are a KCK family in need and would like help through the McKinney-Vento Program, you can reach Smith at 913-279-2150 or jessicar.smith@kckps.org.

Neighbor describes moment 2 men were killed near their home at 47th and Sterling

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

Two men were shot and killed on August 8, and a neighbor came face-to-face with the killer.

Gunshots rang out near E 47th Street & Sterling at around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night. Two men were soon found dead on the sidewalk.

Becky Winchester said she lives in the area. She said she and her partner heard it all. 

“It is scary that it can happen,” Winchester said. “All of a sudden, we heard what we thought were gunshots. We weren’t certain, but it frightened us enough to get off the ground.”

Winchester said her partner looked over after the sound of the shots and saw a man near a gold Cadillac by his neighbor’s house. He asked him if he was alright, and the man nodded. Winchester’s partner didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. He went back to what he was doing, and seconds later, he heard another round of shots.

“He talked to the guy after he shot the one guy and said, ‘Are you okay?’ And then he goes and shoots this guy,” Winchester said.

That’s when her partner realized it was more than gunfire, seeing two victims on the ground. The couple called the police.

“We always just wave when we saw him in the backyard,” Winchester said.

She said one of the victims was their neighbor, and the other was someone he was with. Winchester said the shooter covered them with trash to hide the bodies and drove off. When they called police they told them where the victims were. 

“People aren’t willing to speak up because they’re afraid,” Winchester said.

She said they saw, not only police, but also federal agents in the neighborhood — possibly part of Operation LeGend.

“That will only make Kansas City a better city to live in. I welcome them,” Winchester said.

She said they would see their neighbor often, but they didn’t know him by name. It makes them both sad to know he died this way.

“Even though we didn’t know him, there’s somebody’s dad was killed. Somebody’s husband was killed, husband, brother,” Winchester said. “Any life that’s lost is a tragedy.”

Police have not said if there are any arrests in this case, and they have not released the victims’ identities.

Multi-state search for missing Overland Park mom continues as family fears for her safety

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Original Post

The family of a missing Overland Park mother is asking for help. Marilane Carter, 36, was last seen at a gas station in Mississippi after leaving the metro on Saturday night.

Her family is concerned she may be lost and in crisis — or worse.

“Just let us know that you’re safe. Let us know where you are,” said Brady McLaughlin, Marilane’s brother-in-law.

The mother of three and local pastor’s wife was last seen Monday. She left home on Saturday, saying she wanted to seek mental health treatment. The family believes she was heading for Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham where she once worked as a chaplain.

“She just mentioned to multiple family members, including her mom and husband, that she just wanted to find that help that she needed,” McLaughlin said.

Carter’s family is also in Birmingham, and she headed that way.

The family said she stayed overnight in West Plains, Missouri, according to her bank statement. On Sunday, they spoke with her for the last time. They said she seemed confused and disoriented.

Since then, she was seen at a gas station in West Memphis, Arkansas, on Sunday and on Monday at another gas station in Southhaven, Mississippi. Officer John Lacy with the Overland Park Police Department said they’re waiting for more information. 

“It’s my understanding there’s a person that assisted her, that she needed gas in that area and aided her in giving her about $10-20 of gasoline, and she proceeded,” Lacy said. “What we’re doing is working with the local law enforcement in Mississippi and Tennessee to see if we can locate Mrs. Carter.”

All of the departments across three states, along with the FBI, are working together to find her.

“She could be lost. I don’t know if she’s familiar with Mississippi or she’s been there before,” Lacy said. “Where she is going, her ultimate destination, and where she is is contradicting so that causes a concern.”

Carter’s husband drove down to the Memphis area to help with the search.

Since Sunday her phone stopped pinging, and there is no activity on her cards. The family hopes someone will help them find Marilane and make sure she’s safe.

“It would mean making the family whole again. It would mean getting a mom back to her three kids and a wife back to her husband, and for her getting the counseling that she’s seeking and so desperately so,” McLaughlin said.

She’s described as is 5-foot-8 and weighs approximately 130 pounds. She has long brown hair and green eyes and was last seen wearing a green t-shirt and black yoga pants. 

She was driving her Gray 2011 GMC Acadia bearing the Kansas license plate 194-LFY.

If you see Marilane, you are asked to contact your closest law enforcement agency.

Council kills plan for CID at 18th and Vine after pushback from residents, businesses

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

It’s back to the drawing board for the historic 18th & Vine District.

For months, community leaders have been working toward implementing a community improvement district. However, while some property and business owners wanted to move forward, they didn’t want it this way.

Several signatures filed with the county clerk’s office said they don’t agree with the proposal. One of them is Lisa Yeager, who owns the Mardi Gras Club in the district.

“I just think that we all have to come together on a mutual decision and agreement, but the key factor is we are united,” Yeager said.

She said there were concerns with the proposal when it comes to how lending would be secured for development and little city oversight.

Yeager said she believes 3rd District Councilman-at-large Brandon Ellington’s proposal to zone the 18th & Vine as a red light district could have stripped their historic status.

Two weeks ago, Ellington moved to take the motion off the Neighborhood Planning and Development Committee’s agenda, and Wednesday the committee moved forward.

Now, business and property owners will need to work to create their own community improvement district proposal for the neighborhood. 

Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson worked with Ellington on the petition.

“Now it’s time for us to take the time necessary to work through some of the grievances and some of the complications to ensure that the businesses that are most impacted by a community improvement district, that they’re thoroughly heard and that we can come to a place where at least the majority of folks are feeling good about moving forward,” Robinson said.

“It’s been 17 or 18 years to get a CID down there. Nothing has happened,” Ellington said. “We were able to get the language done and all the signatures done within the month. I  hope that they can get the ball rolling and get a CID implemented down there.”

All three agree 18th & Vine needs the change, but now it will be up to residents and property and business owners to come up with a plan of their own.