(News director J.T. Gerlt from Missourinet Versailles affiliate KTKS contributed to this story)
A veteran Missouri lawmaker who is term-limited has announced that he will be taking over as the new Children’s Division director in mid-June.
State Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, made the announcement Friday morning on Missourinet Versailles affiliate KTKS (FM 95.1). Wood joined news director J.T. Gerlt in-studio for a live interview.
Wood notes there have been five Children’s Division directors in the past seven years.
“I have promised that I will take this job for at least four years,” Wood says. “And I told the Governor (Mike Parson) that we need stability there and I would stay as long as he was there for sure, and longer.”
The Children’s Division is part of the state Department of Social Services (DSS), and is responsible for the administration of child welfare services.
Children’s Division responsibilities include foster care and adoption. The division also partners with local child care providers through the child care subsidy program, which helps Missouri families to become self-sufficient.
The division works with families, communities and the courts toward ensuring the safety and well-bring of Missouri children.
Wood, who’s in his eighth and final year in the House because of term limits, was first elected to the Legislature in 2012. He also serves as the House Budget Committee’s vice chairman.
He tells KTKS that he hopes his experience will help in funding the Children’s Division.
“I know it’s going to be a tough budget cycle because the revenues aren’t coming in, we’re going to have to look at cuts,” says Wood. “And with my experience on the budget and knowing how to deal with that and how to defend certain pieces, I think I’m going to be a good advocate for the department.”
Representative Wood tells Missourinet he will start as Children’s Division director on June 15, and that his resignation from the House will be effective just before that.
Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, praises Wood’s appointment. Haahr has served in the Legislature with Wood for eight years.
“Rep. Wood is one of the most knowledgeable and respected members of the state legislature and will be an incredible asset to the state in his new role,” Speaker Haahr tells Missourinet.
The appointment is also praised by a lobbyist who represents “Kids Win Missouri.” That’s a coalition of groups and individuals who are working to improve the well-being of Missouri children.
“Representative Wood’s passion for keeping children safe, supporting families, and working to make state systems better will all come together perfectly in this role,” Craig Stevenson of “Kids Win Missouri” tweeted on Friday.
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