House Moves to Protect Children in Unlicensed Residential Care Facilities
Dear Citizens: The news that children in some unlicensed residential care facilities have suffered mental, physical, and sexual abuse has prompted legislators to take quick action to create stronger protections for young people in faith-based reform schools. Recently the House gave initial approval to a bill that would create stronger oversight for boarding schools run by religious organizations. An exemption in current law allowed residential care facilities managed by a religious organization to operate without supervision. This allowed some bad actors to set up reform schools with no oversight from the state.
The bill approved by the House will ensure anyone working or volunteering at an unlicensed facility is subjected to a federal criminal background check. It requires all such facilities to notify the Department of Social Services of their existence and to comply with provisions that protect the safety of the children in residence. Additionally, the bill outlines a process to allow the department to intervene when there are allegations of abuse or neglect. The bill will be moving to the Senate for consideration.
House Approves Bill to Create Birth Match Program (HB 432) – The members of the Missouri House have given strong bipartisan support to legislation that seeks to protect newborns from potential abuse. Known as the Birth Match Program, the bill requires data sharing between state departments that would better allow the state to offer prevention and crisis management support to families who may need it.
The bill orders data sharing between the Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services and the State Registrar’s office to compare birth reports with reports of parents who have been convicted of certain crimes or have a termination of parental rights in order to ensure the safety of the child and provide services, if needed. Local Children’s Division personnel will then initiate contact with the family, or make a good faith effort to do so, to determine if the parent or family has a need for services and provide such voluntary and time-limited services as appropriate to help the family. The bill is now under consideration in the Senate.
Encouraging Missourians to Volunteer – Missourians in search of volunteer opportunities have a new resource they can utilize. The Missouri Community Service Commission (MCSC) recently launched a new website that features information on community service opportunities, volunteer spotlights, and background information about MCSC’s programs. The website is available now at ShowMeService.org.
ShowMeService.org allows users to search for hundreds of in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities. Organizations can also add needs to an ongoing list of service projects. The website will also feature volunteer stories each week through a new Volunteer of the Week program. Volunteers can be nominated on the site, and if recognized, their stories are shared statewide. Each year, more than 1.5 million Missourians volunteer in their communities. MCSC will use their website to highlight this work and encourage more citizens to serve others.
State Treasurer Launches New Site to Track Federal COVID-19 Funds – The state treasurer’s office recently launched a new transparency portal that will allow Missourians to keep track of federal funds related to COVID-19. The new portal is an expansion of the CARES Act Funds Portal and will include information related to the American Rescue Plan Act and subsequent funding.
State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick said, “The CARES Act Funds Portal has been a useful resource for Missourians seeking information about pandemic-related expenditures—and also for our local government leaders. I hope this expanded portal will continue to serve as a go-to resource for information about federal funding as well as how state government is using its funds to serve Missourians.”
Visitors to the portal will find the full text of the legislation, a breakdown of funding allocations by state, county, and municipality, as well as other information. As more resources become available, they will be added to the website. The Federal COVID-19 Related Funds Transparency Portal can be found at https://treasurer.mo.gov/COVID.
For more information, contact Representative Pike at [email protected] or call 573-751-5388.