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2015 Legislative Session Update

Wednesday, May 27, 2015









 














































2015 Legislative Session Update 







 










 



 























 













Missouri KidsFirst is excited to share the good news of the 2015 legislative session. This work is made possible by the hundreds of child welfare professionals, survivors and legislators who come together to say that our job to protect children, individually and collectively, is the most important and rewarding task of our lives. 





 











Appropriations





 























 Rep. Haefner champions the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse's priorities in the General Assembly and has been very successful in securing state funding for the Task Force's efforts.




The fiscal year 2016 budget included several significant funding increases for preventing and responding to child abuse. The budget contained the following increases:





    • $1.4 million to the Department of Public Safety to reimburse SAFE-CARE providers for providing forensic medical exams and case reviews to child victims of physical abuse. 






    • $500,000 to the Department of Mental Health to create a Network of Mental Health Providers trained in evidence-based practices for children who have experience trauma. (This appropriation was a top priority for Missouri KidsFirst and is a part of the Task Force on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse's on-going mission of improving mental health services to sexually abused children.)






    • $200,000 to the Department of Social Services, Children's Division (CD) to fund additional staff associated with the increased caseload expected from expanding CD authority to assess youth with sexual behavior problems. 






    • $150,000 to Missouri's Child Advocacy Centers.






    • $100,000 to the Office of the Child Advocate.




Missouri KidsFirst would like to recognize the following legislators for making hard decisions that prioritized services for abused children: Rep. Marsha Haefner, Rep. Kathie Conway, Rep. Robert Ross, Rep. Sue Allen, House Budget Chairman Tom Flanigan, & Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer.





 















 











Youth with Problem Sexual Behaviors





 























Sen. Jeanie Riddle & Chief of Staff Zach Monroe. Sen. Riddle has distinguished herself as a member of the General Assembly who is making child protection a cornerstone of her legislative career.




Senate Bill 341, sponsored by Sen. Jeanie Riddle, was one of the most important bills passed by the General Assembly in 2015. This bill, amended to include many provisions to protect vulnerable persons, gives Children's Division the authority to provide family assessments of youth with problem sexual behaviors. Currently, children who are being abused by juveniles with problem sexual behaviors often receive no services or protective intervention because there is no entity charged with investigating this type of abuse. 



 



Recognizing that Children's Division has been chronically under-funded and under-staffed, the members of the General Assembly increased funding for front-line child abuse investigators by $200,000 to implement SB 341. 



 



The goal of appropriately addressing juveniles with problem sexual behaviors will not be solved in one bill or with one small appropriation. Rather, SB 341 is the first step in a long process to develop and modify investigatory structures, provide appropriate treatment and ultimately prevent child sexual abuse. (This bill was a priority for Missouri KidsFirst and is a part of the Task Force on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse's on-going mission of addressing youth with problem sexual behaviors.)



 



Other provisions added to the bill include: 





    • Giving the Office of the Child Advocate the authority to conduct county-level reviews of child welfare entities, including Children's Division, Juvenile Office or Guardian Ad Litems;






    • Requiring schools to post in a clearly visible location the child abuse and neglect hotline;






    • Requiring all licensed child care facilities to implement and maintain the safe sleep recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics;






    • Prohibiting counties (with the exception of St. Louis county) with Children's Services Funds from expending funds on services not approved by voters; and






    • Extending Orders of Protection to adult and child victims of sexual assault. Previously, Orders of Protection were only available to adult and child victims of domestic violence and stalking.




Giant thank you to sponsors Sen. Jeanie Riddle and Rep. Bill Lant, House Chairwoman of Children and Families Rep. Diane Franklin, Senate Chairman of Seniors, Families and Children Sen. David Sater, Rep. David Wood & House Majority Floor Leader and now-Speaker Todd Richardson.





 











Trafficking Task Force





 











House Continuing Resolution 38, sponsored by Rep. Elijah Haahr, was passed and creates a Human Trafficking Task Force. The HCR outlines a variety of diverse representatives that are to serve on the Task Force, and the Task Force must issue recommendations on legislation to address trafficking to the General Assembly by January 1, 2017. 



 



In addition to Rep. Haahr, Missouri KidsFirst is very grateful to Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey who pushed the General Assembly to take a lead on addressing trafficking in our state.





 











Sexual Education 





 











House Bill 501, sponsored by Rep. Genise Monticello, requires that sexual education in Missouri public and charter schools now include information on online sexual predators, how to communicate with adults and report potential abuse and the dangers of inappropriate texting.



 



Missouri KidsFirst is very appreciative of Rep. Monticello for her commitment to Missouri children and Senate handler Dan Brown for his help on this bill and other issues important to the safety of Missouri children.





 











Bills that Did Not Pass





 











Protecting Forensic Interviews and SAFE Exam Photographs



Missouri KidsFirst and the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children proposed a bill this session that would prohibit MDT team members from making copies of forensic interviews and SAFE exam photographs without a court order limiting how the copies could be used and shared. While there was uniform agreement that a statute was needed to protect this evidence, the Missouri Bar and Office of State Courts Administrator believed the legislation would conflict with existing Supreme Court Rule. As a result, Missouri KidsFirst and sponsors Rep. Marsha Haefner and Sen. Bob Dixon decided to continue to refine the bill language over the summer. Missouri KidsFirst fully expects to have legislation ready to be filed for next session.



 



(This bill was a priority for Missouri KidsFirst and is a part of the efforts of Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children to create the very best system response to children who have been hurt.)





 











Medical Child Abuse





 











House Bill 217 would have prohibited child abuse charges or reporting of child abuse in cases where a parent or caregiver was following the prescribed treatment of a medical or mental health provider. Missouri KidsFirst opposed this bill, which received a hearing but was not voted out of committee, because it could have prohibited charging or reporting in cases of caregiver fabricated illness or munchausen syndrome by proxy.  





 















 














Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children



This year, Missouri KidsFirst's legislative agenda was largely formed from the recommendations of the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children. The group has worked for the last three years on policy initiatives related to multi-disciplinary team excellence and standards, youth with problem sexual behaviors and expanding access to evidence-based mental health services. Missouri KidsFirst is very grateful to the many Task Force members who have given their time and expertise to craft policy solutions that will prevent child sexual abuse. Task Force Report.





 















 















 











 





 















 










 



 















 





 































 










 



 





 


















 





 






 

 



 
















 



 


 









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