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2021 Legislative Session Kicks Off
Missouri lawmakers returned to Jefferson City on Wednesday, January 6 for the start of the 2021 session. The First Regular session of the 101st General Assembly, which will run through May 14, 2021, brings several new faces. There are 47 new members of the Missouri House and 11 newly-elected state senators. While the regular session began in the New Year, legislators have been filing legislation since December 1. To date, over 1,100 bills have been filed.

Missouri KidsFirst advocates for policies and statewide funding for programs that protect and prioritize the safety and wellbeing of children. Each year, we testify in public hearings and engage in meetings with lawmakers and advocacy partners. We are proud to advocate on behalf of Missouri children to improve the way our systems respond to child abuse and neglect.
Here's a snapshot of what we're working on this year:
Maintain crucial funding to protect children: A significant part of our work each session is to support funding for agencies and programs that serve children who have been victims of abuse and neglect and that work to prevent child abuse. For FY 2022, Missouri KidsFirst is working to:

  • Restore funding for Children’s Division to ensure reasonable caseloads and sufficient staff to meet their statutorily required obligations: Given that they are the entity charged with investigating allegations of child abuse and keeping these records on file, they are our closest partner. We cannot effectively do our work without high-quality partnerships with the Children's Division. Unfortunately, cuts to the FY2021 state budget as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in substantial layoffs. Missouri KidsFirst is committed to advocating for the restoration of these funds. 

  • Maintain state investment in Child Advocacy Centers: This funding is administered to Missouri’s fifteen regional CACs through the Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services (DSS). 

  • Protect federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants in the DSS budget. VOCA funding comes from federal court fees and is passed through the Missouri Department of Social Services. 

  • Maintain funding for the SAFE-CARE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination-Child Abuse Resource and Education) program. Administered by DHSS in partnership with Missouri KidsFirst, the SAFE-CARE program develops and maintains a coordinated medical response to child abuse and neglect in Missouri. 
TOP PRIORITY: Support the “Child Residential Home Notification Act” (House Bill 557 & 560), legislation which would improve protections for children in unlicensed residential facilities. 
This legislation would require all child residential homes, those currently exempt from licensing, to register with the state and comply with minimum health and safety regulations and also mandates federal criminal background checks for all employees and volunteers. The intent of this law is to close loopholes which have existed in Missouri law for decades which have left children unprotected and vulnerable to abuse.
Be sure to follow Missouri KidsFirst on Facebook and Twitter to receive updates on our legislative priorities. 
If you have questions about any bills, contact Jessica Seitz, Director of Public Policy at (573) 415-6228 or jessicaseitz@missourikidsfirst.org
Contact Us
520 Dix Road, Suite C, Jefferson City, MO 65109
Phone: 573-632-4600