Missouri KidsFirst successfully advocates at the state and federal levels for policies and funding for programs that protect children from abuse and prioritize their safety and well-being. Each year, we testify in public hearings and engage in meetings with lawmakers and advocacy partners. We are proud to advocate on behalf of Missouri children to improve the way our systems respond to child abuse and neglect.
For more information about Missouri KidsFirst’s public policy activities, please contact:
Jessica Seitz, Executive Director
2023 MISSOURI KIDSFIRST LEGISLATIVE WRAP UP–COMING SOON!
The First Regular session of the 102nd Missouri General Assembly wrapped up on May 12th.
BUDGET & APPROPRIATIONS
A significant part of our work each session is to support funding for agencies and programs that serve children who have been victims of abuse and neglect and that work to prevent child abuse.
Funding for Child Advocacy Centers
This year, a top priority for Missouri KidsFirst is to secure additional funding for the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) program using federal ARPA funds. VOCA, which is the largest source of funding for Missouri child advocacy centers, has faced reductions in the past four years due to decreased income from the federal crime victims fund. Congress passed the VOCA Fix in 2021 which should improve Fund levels and Missouri KidsFirst seeks ARPA funding to bridge the gap. During the 2022 session, the General Assembly appropriated a total of $36 million in federal ARPA funding for the Victims of Crime Act, $12M was included in House Bill 3014, the emergency supplemental funding bill, and $24M was included in House Bill 3020, the ARPA spending bill. During the 2023 session, the Governor reappropriated $24 million in ARPA funding in the state FY2024 budget.
Last year, Missouri KidsFirst secured an increase to the state funding (general revenue) line-item for child advocacy centers (CACs), the first increase since 2015. Beginning FY 2023 (July 1, 2022-June 30, 2022) CACs received approximately $3.5 million/year, an increase of 20%. This funding is allocated to CACs by formula based on population and county share. For more information on state funding for CACs, check out our 2022 advocacy handout and our estimated breakdown of this funding by Center. In the Governor’s FY2024 proposed budget, CACs are level funded at $3.5 million.
Other Missouri KidsFirst Funding Priorities
Department of Health and Senior Services—Division of Community and Public Health: SAFE-CARE Program—SAFE-CARE Program Administration & Regional Medical Response to Child Abuse (10.710).
The SAFE-CARE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination-Child Abuse Resource and Education) program, administered by DHSS in partnership with Missouri KidsFirst, develops and maintains a coordinated medical response to child abuse and neglect in Missouri. DHSS funding supports training, mentorship and ongoing education for medical providers on the forensic evaluation and comprehensive medical care of children who may have suffered physical or sexual abuse. This program also supports a regionalized medical response to child abuse, including providing triage and medical review of cases of children three and under referred by the Children’s Division and leading medical forensics trainings to providers and multi-disciplinary team members. The regionalized response is coordinated by Missouri KidsFirst and is a collaboration among DSS, DHSS and Missouri’s three Child Abuse Resource Centers (St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Children’s Mercy Hospital and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital). Child abuse pediatricians at the Resource Centers review almost 5,000 cases each year using the triage system. Proposed level funding in SFY2024.
Department of Public Safety—Office of the Director–State Services to Victims Fund (8.035)
The State Services to Victims Fund provides grants to community-based programs for a range of direct services to victims of crime, including child advocacy centers. Awards are made competitively and support services including victim advocacy, counseling and multi-disciplinary team (Children’s Division, law enforcement, prosecutors, juvenile officers, and medical and mental health providers) investigation team coordination. $2 million in state crime fines, proposed level funded in SFY2024.
LEGISLATIVE WRAP UP COMING SOON
What else was introduced this year? What did not pass?
Thousands of bills are filed each year in the General Assembly. For a full list of bills supported and monitored by Missouri KidsFirst in 2023, including summaries and links to the legislation, check out our 2023 Bill Tracker–Coming soon!
Follow @MOKidsFirst on Twitter for up-to-date legislative updates throughout session!