SB 0043 Establishes the "Office of the Child Advocate for Children's Protection & Services"
LR Number:0488S.01I Fiscal Note:0488-01
Committee:Aging, Families, Mental & Public Health
Last Action:04/02/03 - SCS Voted Do Pass S Aging, Families & Mental & Public Journal page:
Health Committee 0488S.08C
Title:SCS SB 43
Effective Date:August 28, 2003
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Current Bill Summary

SCS/SB 43 - This act creates the "Office of the Child Advocate for Children's Protection and Services" within the Office of Administration to assure that children receive adequate protection and care from services and programs offered by the Department of Social Services. The Advocate shall report directly to the Commissioner of the Office of Administration. The Advocate shall be appointed jointly by the Governor and the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court by February 1, 2004. The term of office for the Advocate shall be six years or until a successor is duly appointed. The Advocate shall act independently of the Department of Social Services. Administrative staff and support shall be provided.

The Advocate will have access to the names of all children in protective services, all written reports of child abuse and neglect, and all current records maintained pursuant to Chapter 210, RSMo. The Advocate can communicate privately with any child in protective services and anyone working with the child. The Advocate shall have the authority to inspect, copy and subpoena judicial and law enforcement records, to file amicus curiae briefs, to initiate meetings with the Division of Family Services and juvenile officers, and to accept federal grants and gifts.

The Advocate shall:

- Establish procedures for receiving, processing and resolving complaints made by or on behalf of children under the care of the Department;

- Make recommendations on changes to any current policies and procedures;

- Monitor and analyze federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and policies;

- Inform recipients and their families or guardians of their rights under state and federal laws; and

- Annually submit a detailed report to the General Assembly, the Governor, and the Missouri Supreme Court.

Disclosure of files will be at the discretion of the Advocate, except when disclosure is required by court order or when the recipient consents in writing to the disclosure. Any representative of the Office of the Child Advocate that knowingly and willfully discloses information will be guilty of a class A misdemeanor. The Office shall not be required to testify in court regarding confidential matters, except by court order. Representatives of the Office shall not be liable for any duties performed in good faith. Any person who knowingly or willfully retaliates against any recipient or employee of the Department due to information given to the Office of the Child Advocate shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.