Missouri currently has one of the highest per-capita rates of children in state custody — about 9 children per 1,000 people. The national average is about 5.4 children. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen dramatic growth of 31% among children in state custody at some point during the year between 2007 and 2017.
The crisis requires evidence-based, collaborative policy changes. To that end, the Missouri Children’s Division has worked with stakeholders — including child-welfare professionals, parents and children — to craft action for legislators during the current session. One bill in particular passed a milestone this week in that the Missouri House of Representatives “perfected” it — meaning no amendments can be made before it is passed by the full House and sent to the Senate.
House Committee Bill 11 would:
- Make background checks for adults in a foster home more robust
- Waive fees for older foster youth seeking an official copy of their state birth certificate
- Better enable older foster youth seeking to open bank accounts
- Make state assessments of children for child-abuse-investigative purposes compliant with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Create a new board to increase trauma-informed childcare in Missouri
- Give children who are homeless or in state custody additional time to provide proof of immunizations so they can attend school
Children don’t have a political party and common-sense legislation like HCB 11 will bring our state closer to a safe place for children.