JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Members of the House Children and Families Committee have released recommendations designed to keep children at unlicensed youth residential facilities safe.
State Rep. Sheila Solon, who chairs the committee, said the recommendations are meant to end the cycle of abuse that has occurred at unlicensed facilities in Missouri.
“The lack of oversight and enforcement has sent a terrible message that nobody cares about these vulnerable young people. As lawmakers, it is our duty to do all we can to protect them and to take every step possible to ensure more children do not suffer similar abuse,” said Solon, R-St. Joseph. “The recommendations we have endorsed as a committee represent commonsense reforms that can and will protect the children who have been forgotten and neglected by our system.”
Some of the recommendations put forth by the committee include:
- Requiring facilities in Missouri that care for children away from their parents or guardians on a residential basis to abide by minimal health and safety requirements in order to operate;
- Instituting a one-time registration requirement with the Department of Social Services for any facility that is not otherwise licensed by the state;
- Including in the registration process proof that the facility has and will continue to conduct Missouri State Highway patrol fingerprint background checks of all owners, operators, employees, and volunteers; and
- Requiring the Department of Social Services to maintain a report or public website where the public can see licensed and registered facilities and reports of substantiated cases of child abuse or other criminal complaints.