I was formally made a board member of the Children's Trust Fund at their spring meeting last week. It is sure an honor for me to hold a seat at the table. That afternoon we had a sub committee hearing on Child abuse and neglect. We were fortunate to have four Senators and four Reps in attendance. A group of Juvenile Officers and a Juvenile Judge were present to answer question from the committee. We explored the problem of rules being applied differently at different locations around the state. Most of the rules that Juvenile Officers go by call for a judgment on the part of the officer. Definitions are intentionally vague due to so many different interpretations that are possible. Some of the committee members asked how we might offer better or more effective training so that the officers and children's division workers would be able to make a more informed decision. One point that was brought out was the extremely high turnover rate for Children's Division workers. Roughly 38% of the employees last less than one year. We agreed that it is a high stress job but getting back to training, if they are better equipped for the job, they probably will stay longer. One comment that I heard from one of the people I solicit advice from was "The trainers need to be retrained". I shared that thought with the division and they agreed that there is not enough continuing education for supervisory personnel. It is really eye opening to hear from Senators and Reps from the big city areas. When I asked if the slow economy was contributing to the rising rates of neglect and abuse in their areas, their answer was that the greatest cause of the increase was HEROIN USE. The number of children in state custody in St. Louis, Kansas City, and the Jeff City/ Columbia area has doubled due to heroin addiction of the parents! Wow, keep your eyes and ears open, we sure don't need that kind of problem here in the Southwest. Overall, our committee has collected some great information this past year. We will meet at least twice more this summer and I am trying to set up a meeting in the District to hear local concerns.
Food for Thought section: If the only school curriculum allowed to explain how we got here is evolution, BUT the government stops a $15 million dollar construction project to keep a rare spider from evolving to extinction... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.