Special Efforts Being Made in Missouri to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

Signed into law in June 2016, H.B. 1877 provides that upon receipt of a report of child abuse or neglect concerning a child three years or younger, and if the DSS’ Children’s Division determines that such report merits an investigation, such investigation shall include an evaluation of the child by a SAFE CARE provider or a review of the child’s case file and photographs of the child’s injuries by a SAFE CARE provider. Pursuant to §334.950, a SAFE CARE provider is a physician, advanced practice nurse, or physician’s assistant who provides medical diagnosis and treatment to children suspected of being victims of abuse and who receives Missouri-based initial intensive training regarding child maltreatment from the SAFE CARE network; ongoing update training on child maltreatment from the SAFE CARE network; and peer review and new provider mentoring regarding the forensic evaluation of children suspected of being victims of abuse from the SAFE CARE network.  [Recommendation 5.3]

H.B. 1877 also created within DSS the Missouri Task Force on the Prevention of Infant Abuse and Neglect to study and make recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly concerning the prevention of infant abuse and neglect in Missouri. The task was to develop recommendations to reduce infant abuse and neglect, including but not limited to (1) sharing information between the Children’s Division and hospitals and birthing centers for the purpose of identifying newborn infants who may be at risk of abuse and neglect; and (2) training division employees and medical providers to recognize the signs of infant child abuse and neglect. [Recommendation 5.3]

Several child protection agencies put together a statewide standardized training course on mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect. The training describes warning signs for various types of abuse and neglect, defines Missouri’s child protection statutes and includes an example of a hotline call. Mandatory reporters are urged but not required to complete the training.