Nazareth Child & Family Connection’s mission of helping kids heavily impacted by pandemic-induced shortage of workers

Founded in 1906, Nazareth Child & Family Connection is committed to providing a safe and...
Founded in 1906, Nazareth Child & Family Connection is committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for every child, individual and families.(Submitted photo)
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 6:21 AM EST
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A shortage of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted most every sector of business in the United States, but that impact has been especially hard on nonprofits like Nazareth Child & Family Connection in Rowan County.

According to the National Council of Nonprofits, there remain more than 500,000 unfilled positions in the nonprofit sector, vacancies that can be attributed to the pandemic in one way or another.

Nazareth Child & Family Connection is all too familiar with the situation. Three of Nazareth’s six residential homes at its residential care facility have been closed for almost a year because of staff shortages.

“We get calls every day for kids who need placement, and we have to turn them down because we don’t have the staffing,” said Vernon Walters Jr., president and CEO of Nazareth.

“We serve children who need a stable, home-like environment where they can learn and grow. These children need counseling and proper medical and dental care and mental health care. Unfortunately, we just cannot admit anywhere near our capacity now.”

When fully staffed, Nazareth can serve 51 children.

Typically, the department of social services refers children to Nazareth. Most of the children Nazareth serves come from within a 90-mile radius of Rockwell.

Currently Nazareth needs to fill 14 positions, or almost 20 percent of its normal staff of 80. The biggest need is residential counselors, where there are presently 10 openings. They also have openings for a counselor, an administrative assistant, a kitchen helper, and two clerks for their outlet store.

Many of these positions have been open for three months or more.

Nazareth offers an attractive employee package with competitive salary, 401K, dental insurance, flexible spending account, health insurance, life insurance, and vision insurance.

When a residential home is taken offline, children normally referred to Nazareth are not getting the therapeutic residential care needed.

“Nazareth is a good, rewarding place to work. Working with kids can be difficult in most any situation, but at the same time, when you turn a kid’s life around or reunite them with their family, it is rewarding,” said Walters. “While a job as a residential counselor is not an easy job it is one that offers the opportunity to impact the lives of young people in a way that cannot be matched in most any other job.”

Residential counselors at Nazareth provide daily trauma informed care to abused or neglected teens. They live in houses with the residents, working seven days on, seven days off. Responsibilities include caring for the safety, security, and welfare of residents and monitoring mental health and behavior and providing guidance to all residents.

Walters said the position is often attractive to married couples or individuals who have grown children. He also said if offered the opportunity for individuals to have every other week free.

About Nazareth Child & Family Connection: Founded in 1906, Nazareth Child & Family Connection is committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for every child, individual and families. In addition to the residential services for children and foster care program, Nazareth Child & Family Connection has outpatient facilities in Salisbury and Lexington serving individuals with mental health, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, as well as behavioral health needs.

Nazareth offers an array of services, including family foster care, adoptions, transitional living services for young adults, day treatment for elementary and middle school children, teen mother residential services, level two therapeutic residential, individual and group outpatient therapy, psychiatric services and outpatient substance abuse therapy in Rowan, Davidson, and Stanly counties. If you would like more information about giving or volunteering at Nazareth, please contact Jennifer Ethridge, director of human resources, at 704.279.5556 Ext. 1112 or by emailing

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