Governor Bob Holden has announced a reorganization of the Department of Social Services. It comes in response to harsh criticism of the Division of Family Services in the death of 2-year-old Dominic James, who died while in state-approved foster care in Southwest Missouri. Holden has also signed an executive order, creating an ombudsman within the Office of Administration to investigate complaints against the Department and to monitor how children’s services are delivered. The Governor says the change will increase the focus on child protection and streamline functions dealing with child welfare. It comes on the heels of a report presented to the Governor by former Circuit Court Judge Frank Conley of Columbia and the former chairman of the Children’s Trust Fund as well as former director of Boys Town and Girls Town of Missouri, Mike Dunn. Holden requested the two investigate the child welfare system in Greene County in wake of James’ death. Holden has directed the transfer of two programs from the Department of Social Services to other departments of state government. The Division of Child Support Enforcement collection functions will be transferred to the Department of Revenue. The workforce development functions of the Department will move to the Department of Economic Development.
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