The state Senate has given initial approval to legislation that would create a prescribed pediatric extended-care center license issued by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).

The bill from Sen. Rusty Black, R-Chillicothe, focuses on providing specialized care for children with complex medical needs. Currently, children with medical complexities can receive private nursing.

“While this helps some children, for others, this cost them opportunities to socialize with other children and for parents, this can be burdensome to schedule and potentially require parents to stay home with their children instead of going to work due to the lack of available nursing staff,” he said.

A provision added to the bill from Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, would limit the scope of authority that the Department of Health and Senior Services has to make rules and regulations for the license.

“We’re giving authority to DHSS to inspect the conditions of the places in which the applicant operates including records, premises, and children to be served,” Eigel said. “My concern was that we were going to be giving DHSS direct access to children potentially without the presence of their parents.”

Services that these care centers provide could include skilled nursing, personal care, nutritional and developmental assessment, and speech, physical, and occupational therapy.

Black’s bill also requires prescribed pediatric extended care centers to be licensed childcare providers under state law. He explained that these kids need the proper support and attention.

“This would make it an option for a childcare provider and, of course, these probably not going to be too many where I live at…but to allow that childcare provider organization to possibly choose to take on one, two, three medically complex children,” Black said.

Exceptions include centers with specific caregiver staffing ratios, hospitals, and certain programs licensed by the Department of Mental Health. A licensing requirement stipulates that someone who operates one of these centers, needs to have the proper certification by August of 2025.

The bill requires one final vote of approval before going to the House for consideration.

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