Division of Legal Services

The Division of Legal Services provides comprehensive legal support to all program and support divisions in the Department of Social Services (DSS). The Division represents the Department, its Divisions, and the State, not individuals. The Division of Legal Services (DLS) is organized into four major sections:

Litigation - The Litigation Section of the Division of Legal Services (DLS) provides legal advice and legal representation to the Department of Social Services and its Divisions. It represents the divisions of DSS before administrative tribunals and in the circuit courts. DLS attorneys represent the Children’s Division in the Juvenile Courts in cases involving abused and neglected children. They also work with the Children’s Division to ensure that children in the foster care system are placed in safe, appropriate and permanent homes. In appropriate cases, the attorneys file petitions to terminate parental rights on behalf of the Children’s Division. They defend the decisions of the Children’s Division’s in foster care licensure and adoption subsidy cases. DLS attorneys defend decisions of the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board. The attorneys represent the Division of Youth Services in dual jurisdiction cases and they provide other legal services to the Division of Youth Services to assist in restoring young people to leading lives as productive citizens. They represent the MO HealthNet Division and the Family Support Division before administrative tribunals. The DLS attorneys also work with the program Divisions of the department to ensure the privacy of confidential information maintained by the Department.

Administrative Hearings - is comprised of hearing officers who conduct hearings relating to child support enforcement and public benefits under Chapters 208, 454, 536 and 660, RSMo. [Administrative hearings include enforcing, establishing and modifying child support orders, to ensure the obligation to provide child support is current and reflects the parents' ability to provide financial and medical support to their children in accordance with Supreme Court Rule 88.01.] The Administrative Hearings Sections also provides hearings to thousands of public assistance applicants and recipients as mandated by federal law. These due process hearings provide the forum for determining whether the denial or termination of public benefits was justified. In addition, hearings are provided to elderly persons who face eviction from nursing homes.

Investigations - The Investigation Section is divided into three units: Welfare Investigations Unit, Claims and Restitution Unit, and the General Assignment Unit, which handles Personnel Investigations.

By the successful accomplishment of its mission, the Investigation Section enhances the integrity of all public assistance programs by ferreting out fraud and abuse and recovering monies improperly obtained.

State Technical Assistance Team - performs duties related to child fatality review and provides assistance to multidisciplinary teams and local law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting child sexual abuse cases. The STAT Unit helps to safeguard Missouri’s children against abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse, by providing technical assistance and training to child fatality review panels throughout the State as well as assisting in the investigation and prosecution of child sexual abuse cases.

For more information about the services we provide, please contact us at:

DIVISION OF LEGAL SERVICES
221 West High Street
Room 230
PO Box 1527
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Telephone: (573) 751-3229
Fax: (573) 526-1484

If you require legal representation, you may consult various lawyer referral agencies including, but not limited to:

Organization Phone Web Address
Missouri Bar Lawyer Referral Service (573) 636-3635 www.mobar.org
Bar Association Metropolitan St. Louis
"Find a Lawyer" St. Louis Area
(314) 421-4134 www.bamsl.org
Mid-Missouri Legal Services (800) 568-4931 (9:00 - 11:00)
(573) 442-0116 (8:30 - 5:00)