The DCS staff had their Christmas party Friday, and will have foster families in throughout next week to visit with staff and meet Santa Claus.
DCS Director Mike Baker said it was the first time the staff had gone all out for the decorating contest, and noted it is important to remember they are strongly involved in the community.
The mission of DCS is to protect children from abuse and neglect by partnering with the family and means in the community to provide safe and stable environments.
"We are a part of the community. They are a part of us. We are here to help the families," Baker said.
The Department of Child Services investigates charges of neglect or abuse of children, and offer the services to families who are in need, according to DCS Supervisor Jackie Haddix.
"Our ultimate goal is to keep the families in tact, but we want to make sure the children are safe," Haddix said. "We refer our families to services that are free to them."
Members of the DCS staff picked up gifts for the children from Crane in order to prepare for the visiting families next week, and DCS also received a grant from REMC to help with purchasing items for the families.
Haddix stressed the importance of having the staff take part in the decorating contest and the staff party.
"This is a way to lighten the mood in a celebratory way," Haddix said. "It's really to build the morale of the staff. There is a lot of negativity in this job, so this will help lighten things up."
Former attorney for the Department of Child Services Jim Reister will be judging the decorating contest, and the best hallway will receive a trophy.
Staff members worked together and enlisted the help of their families to prepare for the decorating contest.
Karen Roach enlisted the help of her daughter, Kelsey, to implement the "Beary Merry Christmas" theme around her desk.
"Kelsey came up with the theme. She spent hours here after office hours helping decorate," Roach said.
Haddix noted this was another positive aspect of the in-house decorating contest because most of the DCS staff families sacrifice due to being on call at all hours.
Debra Payton, DCS support staff, enlisted the help of Haddix to create the center of her "Polar Express" themed cubicle out of paper mache.
Attorney Ellen Martin and Legal Assistant Emily Bock worked together to create a "Candy Land" theme in their office, complete with peppermint swirls and wrapping paper covered walls.
"It brings teamwork together. We have hard jobs here and it's nice to let our guards down and celebrate," Martin said.
Haddix added, "It's nice to see your staff laugh instead of being so gloomy."
Julie Walker brought her "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" themed cubicle to life with the help of her dog, Tanner.
Tanner was clad with the reindeer ears and silver bells as he served as the DCS office's Christmas mascot.
Walker said the children and families would enjoy seeing the reindeer wandering through the office as they come in to see Santa and get their Christmas gifts.
Baker noted while this is the first time the office has joined together in the decorating contest, he hopes it will be the first of many.