Workforce Development & Workplace Safety - Chairman
Joint Committee on Child Abuse & Neglect - Vice-Chair
Professional Registration & Licensing
Subcommittee on Child Abuse Reporting & Investigating - Chairman
Issue Development Standing Committee on Cowboy Caucus on Agricultural Issues
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Child Abuse & Children Services Town Hall Meetings Schedule
Monday, November 25th - 6 p.m.
Thursday, December 12th - 6 p.m.
Lampo Community Building
Veterans Day Events Around the District
Monday evening we were at Granny Schaffer's in Webb City for a town hall meeting on child abuse and neglect. This meeting was a little different than our previous meetings in that several Division of Children's Service employees were in attendance. There were around 30 people there to tell the Committee about their experiences with DSS. We will have one more town hall meeting at Neosho before making our report to the General Assembly on our first year findings. So far we have pretty well determined that more training for caseworkers is necessary before turning them loose. It also looks like additional training would benefit supervisory personnel as well. With the extremely high rate of turnover we certainly can't expect the Division to work as it was intended to. Many additional problems have been discussed, not the least of which is the marked increase in heroin usage. Addicts completely ignore the fact that they have children to care for when their focus is only on where they will get their next fix. I was able to visit one on one with an investigator for the Division after the meeting and he told me that one concern they have is the limited time they have to complete their investigation. As a result of our conversation, we may be able to change the current regulations to allow for a few extra days. I am hopeful that this is the process by which we can improve the system, making small but meaningful changes to better protect the most vulnerable citizens of our state.
We began the week Monday with a meeting with all the School Superintendents in the Southwest area. Senator Richard led off with an update of likely legislation for next session. The Superintendents wanted some assurance that there would be increases in funding as promised by the Governor. We explained that even when we have increased spending in past years, the Governor has withheld those increases for one reason or another. One area of particular concern for my district is transportation funding. The Governor has cut funding for transportation several times in the past few years. While this is not very damaging to School Districts with one or two hundred miles of bus routes daily, it is devastating to McDonald County, Neosho, and Seneca who travel up to 3000 miles daily to pick up and return students. Yep, I said 3000 miles! With fuel, tires, and maintenance costs at all time highs, you can imagine the strain on our School District budgets. I intend to work with Superintendents to propose legislation to address this problem. We also had a discussion on the Common Core standards. There is a great deal of confusion about what it is actually designed to do, how that is to be accomplished, and what changes and additions to the initial Curriculum are to be implemented. We have been told that there are several Senators who intend to withhold funding for the program until we get some straight answers. Sometimes it makes more sense to go slowly with major changes like this.