The Senate Budget Committee Chairman has said he will be watching for results from the Children’s Division within the Department of Social Services for improvements in its handling of child abuse cases. That comes as the legislature and Governor Jay Nixon (D) both recommended $5.1-million additional dollars for the Division, intended to help it lower the turnover rate among abuse investigators and to help reduce a backlog of abuse reports.
The Division Director, Tim Decker, says it is ready for additional scrutiny.
“We expect results of ourselves,” says Decker. “We want to see enhanced well being for the children we serve. We want to be sure they’re getting their healthcare needs met. We want to be sure that they’re having the same opportunities that we want for our own children; to go to college, to pursue a career, to have those lifelong supports they’re going to need.”
“Ultimately the way you measure results in the child welfare system is whether children are safe, whether children in the system are reunifying with their families or moving on to another permanent placement,” says Decker, “Because all children need a loving family that’s going to be with them for the duration.”
Decker believes the additional money will make a difference.
“These investments will actually strengthen our workforce,” says Decker. “They will prepare people for the work, for the difficulty of the work, and they’ll really build a career pathway so that some of our best staff can remain on the front lines working with the children and families.”
The proposed increases for the Children’s Division are included in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal approved by the legislature last week. Governor Nixon still must act on that budget.