Missouri KidsFirst successfully advocates at the state and federal levels for policies and funding that prioritize the safety and well-being of children. Each year, we testify in public hearings and engage in meetings with lawmakers and advocacy partners. This work has made Missouri KidsFirst the state leader on any public policy issue related to child abuse and neglect.
We consider it a privilege to advocate on behalf of Missouri children. We have diligently worked to improve the way Missouri’s systems respond to issues of child abuse and neglect and have established a track record of legislative success, including securing funding increases for Child Advocacy Centers and the Missouri Children’s Division, changing Missouri’s mandatory reporting law to require direct reporting, revising the state criminal code, increasing penalties for child abuse crimes, supporting the SAFE-CARE network of child abuse medical providers and much more.
For more information about Missouri KidsFirst’s public policy activities, please contact:
Jessica Seitz, Director of Public Policy
2018 Missouri General Assembly Session Wrap-Up
The 2018 legislative session closed on May 18, 2018. From the start, lawmakers expressed their commitment to improving the state’s child welfare system this year, even launching a special committee to focus on policy proposals that impact the health, safety, and welfare of children and youth in Missouri.
Missouri KidsFirst is delighted to say that this year the Missouri General Assembly came through for kids. Legislators passed a large number of Missouri KidsFirst priority bills and maintained appropriations for our priority programs in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. We are very grateful to Missouri leaders for their hard work this year and look forward to supporting the implementation of these new laws.
Missouri KidsFirst Priority Legislation that was “Truly Agreed and Finally Passed” (TAFP):
- Champion for Children Tax Credit Renewal: Extends the sunset for the Champion for Children Tax Credit—a benevolent tax credit for Child Advocacy Centers, Crisis Nurseries and CASA programs—and increases the cap on the aggregate amount of tax credits that may be authorized from $1 million to $1.5 million. **TOP MISSOURI KIDSFIRST PRIORITY**
- Removes the 30-year statute of limitations for prosecutions of sexual offenses against children.
- Increases the minimum age of marriage to 16 and closes the “child marriage loophole,” prohibiting marriages of an individual under 17 to someone over 21.
- Requires comprehensive background checks for early childhood providers.
- Reauthorizes and updates the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children
- Requires posters advertising the national human trafficking website and hotline number be posted in public places such as hotels, truck stops, airports and train stations.
- Extends postpartum Medicaid coverage for mothers with a substance abuse disorder
- Senate Bill 819—Child Welfare Omnibus, contains multiple provisions Missouri KidsFirst supported including:
- Increases information kept by Children’s Division in child abuse and neglect investigation records and extends retention of these records
- Improves Children’s Division’s ability to investigate child abuse and neglect across state lines
- Establishes the Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Task Force
The House and Senate passed the 2019 Fiscal Year state budget (July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019) and the two budget bills of highest priority to us—House Bill 2010 (Department of Mental Health & Health and Senior Services) and House Bill 2011 (Department of Social Services)—contained the following child welfare funding:
- Child Advocacy Centers funded at FY2018 levels: $2.95M
- Evidence-based mental health trauma treatments for abused children (Medicaid supplemental case management fee): $1.25M TOTAL ($500,000 General Revenue & $750,000 Federal)
- Maintained funding for SAFE-CARE at FY2018 levels, including renewal of the $250,000 secured last year for the first time to implement a regionalized medical response to child abuse, provide a daily review of cases of children under four and provide medical forensics training to medical providers and multi-disciplinary team members.
- Missouri Children’s Trauma Network funded at FY2018 levels: $500,000
- Line-item spending authorization increased for federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) by approximately $8M (from $37M to $45M)
For a full list of legislation supported and monitored by Missouri KidsFirst this year, including summaries and links to the legislation, check out our 2018 Legislative Tracker.