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Child welfare advocates worried about cuts to Missouri’s Children’s Department

Child welfare advocates worry about Children's Division layoffs
Child welfare advocates worry about Children's Division layoffs(KY3)
Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 5:23 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KY3) - The Missouri Department of Social Services announced it will cut 96 positions from its Children’s Division.

80 of those jobs are currently filled.

Child welfare advocates say these cuts couldn’t come at a worse time.

”There’s a lot of concern that our families may not get the communication and support that they need and deserve,” said Laura Farmer, Executive Director for the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southwest Missouri.

CASA employees spend a lot of time working with foster children and children who are abused and need help.

When the coronavirus pandemic started in March, CASA saw their child abuse hotline calls drop.

”Hotline calls dropped by about 50-percent,” Farmer said. “That has averaged back out to our normal response rate.”

A big reason why those calls dropped is because schools had closed. Teachers and school staff are mandatory reporters of child abuse.

With schools potentially returning to in-person instruction this fall, that’ll bring an increase in reports and cases.

”The Children’s Division stated they are not cutting front line workers,” Farmer said. “In theory, this shouldn’t increase caseloads for caseworkers, but what is happening, by cutting middle managers, we are cutting a lot of institutional knowledge and support that our caseworkers receive.”

Farmer says there is a way people can help.

”We’re constantly recruiting community volunteers who want to support our kids in foster care and be that mentor and that advocate for them,” Farmer said.

The Missouri Department of Social Services said it has offered jobs to 70 of the 80 who are losing their jobs with the Children’s Division.

The job cuts happen on August 3rd, a little more than 2 weeks away. Reporting in Jefferson City, Andrew Havranek, KY3 News.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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