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Fears over Missouri's Department of Social Services Children’s Division 2020 layoffs realized

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A male child of color seated in a wooden courtroom pew with a judge at the bench with adults gathered around in the background.  The boy has his right arm resting on the back of the pew with his left hand holding the top of the pew.  He is looking at the camera.
Katie Hobson
/
KCUR
Layoffs in 2020 has left the Children's Division of Missouri's DSS without enough investigators to handle its caseload.

Facing a budget shortfall in 2020, Missouri cut 200 jobs at the Department of Social Services including positions in the division overseeing abused and neglected children.

In the summer of 2020, Missouri was in the middle of a budget shortfall. Two hundred open positions at various agencies would not be filled and another 300 jobs would be cut. Of those 300, the Department of Social Services would lose 200 employees including caseworkers in the Children’s Division.

There was tremendous concern about the impact this would have on the abused and neglected children served by the division. Overwhelmed case workers who no longer have the support of experienced supervisors, even higher turnover rates of employees, longer periods needed to investigate, children spending longer time in care, and fewer services for the children are being realized due to the layoffs.

Angie Blumel, president and CEO of Jackson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) believes the CASA volunteers have responded to the need to fill that void but it's made their job extremely harder.

"The turnover at the time was reported as high as 80%, now we're looking at darn near 100% in 2022 and when you have lack of experienced and qualified professionals who are responsible for the care and custody of kids in our state, that's very problematic."

Learn more about being a CASA volunteer at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, April 13 at the free Light of Hope breakfast on April 13th at 7:30a.m. at Sheraton Crown Center, 2345 McGee St., Kansas City, Missouri, 64108. For more information about volunteering, visit www.casakc.org, or call Jackson County CASA at 816-984-8204.

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As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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