The Long Road to Recovery for Missouri’s Broken Foster Care System

The Long Road to Recovery for Missouri’s Broken Foster Care System

Six months after the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the US Department of Health and Human Services released a case study of Missouri’s Department of Social Services’ 2019 performance, it revealed they scored poorly at preventing a child in state custody from going missing. Thanks to the diligence of Rob and Kathleen Raskin, this issue will not only be reported in Missouri.

Missouri’s DSS appointed a new Acting Director, Robert Knodell, in late 2021. He says he studied the 2019 report, which reviewed the cases of 59 children in the foster care system. He identified four fundamental issues to address, as follows:

  1. Missouri lacked the policies necessary to identify factors that make a child more vulnerable to go missing in the first place.
  2. A lack of evidence that Missouri agencies took the required actions to locate children missing from the foster care system
  3. One in three children’s cases didn’t show evidence of a health and safety checkup after they’ve returned to foster care.
  4. Missouri’s case management system doesn’t accurately identify children missing from foster care.

Knodell says the DSS addresses these issues via technology updates and budget increases to support caseworkers and the entire foster care system. He also states the 59 children from the 2019 report have been identified and are safe in the care of the Children’s Division.

According to Brad Whitley, the regional inspector general of the Office of Evaluation and Inspections in Kansas City, MO, the OIG had discovered these same problems across the entire state. In other words, it wasn’t isolated to one area, such as rural or urban. Furthermore, he cites evidence for this exact problem across the entire country.

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