The Children’s Justice Act Task Force was established by the Children’s Division, in conjunction with federal legislation, to improve the prosecution and handling of child abuse and neglect cases, and to reduce trauma to child victims of abuse. The members of the Task Force seek to benefit and enhance children’s lives by recommending improvements in child abuse and neglect laws, policies, programs, professional education and public awareness, and to provide funding, through grants, to support these recommendations.
In an effort to identify any service gaps or specific issues that Task Force funding may be helpful in addressing, we hope to engage the various professionals who interact with the child welfare system statewide, and concerned Missouri citizens in our effort to collect information. We are asking you to complete this survey to inform the Task Force about investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse in Missouri. Information provided in this survey will remain confidential and your e-mail address will not be associated with your responses. The results from this survey will be used to develop recommendations for systems improvement.
In Missouri, cases of child abuse/neglect are investigated using a multi-disciplinary team approach. A brief description of the roles of the core members of the multi-disciplinary team is as follows:
-Children’s Division: The Children’s Division provides protective services to children and their families in accordance with Chapters 207, 210, and 211 RSMo., and other applicable law. The Children’s Division conducts investigations to assess the child's safety and to provide rehabilitative services to children and their families as well as to make determinations of child abuse or neglect. The Children’s Division immediately notifies the appropriate law enforcement agency of receipt of any hotline call report regarding child abuse or any other crime against a child in accordance with Missouri statute and policies and procedures established by the Children’s Division.
-Law Enforcement: Law enforcement investigates reports of child abuse and neglect reported to be criminal in nature, determines whether or not a crime has been committed, and presents information to the proper authorities for prosecution. Law enforcement co-investigates reports of child abuse/neglect with the Children’s Division.
-Prosecuting Attorney: The prosecuting attorney assesses the legal aspects of child abuse/neglect investigative cases presented to him/her and determines on a case by case basis whether or not further pursuit of remedies available through the criminal justice system is warranted.
-Child Advocacy Center: Child Advocacy Centers participate and assist in the coordination of the multi-disciplinary team approach to investigating child abuse/neglect and seek justice for child victims of abuse including sexual abuse, serious physical abuse, and/or neglect. Child Advocacy Centers provide variety of services to children and families involved in child abuse/neglect investigations including, but not limited to, forensic interviews of children alleged to be victims of child physical and/or sexual abuse and Sexual Assault Findings Examinations (SAFE).
-Juvenile Office: The juvenile office provides assistance with the multi-disciplinary team investigative process by utilizing its statutory authority to file petitions with the juvenile court when the allegations and investigative findings warrant such action, take protective custody of children when deemed appropriate and necessary, and properly adjudicate child abuse/neglect and delinquency allegations.
-Medical Provider: In this context, medical providers are those physicians and nurse practitioners who have received specialized training in the examination of children who may have been sexually assaulted, physically abused and/or neglected. These medical personnel conduct appropriate medical evaluations, wh