A Sunshine Law request is a request for a specific public record that is in existence at the time of the request. The Department of Social Services (DSS) is, like other state and local public governmental bodies, subject to Missouri's Open Meetings and Records ("Sunshine") Law.

Under the Sunshine Law and other state laws and regulations (§§ 37.070 and 109.180, RSMo; 13 CSR 5-1.030), it is the policy of DSS to carry out its mission with full transparency to the public unless otherwise required by law. Therefore all records of DSS are open to the public unless specifically closed by law. State and federal law and regulations determine what DSS may provide, and whether any information in the records must be redacted or edited to keep protected information confidential.

How do I submit a Sunshine Law request?

All requests for access to, or copying of, public records made to the department under Chapter 610 RSMo should be directed to the Custodian of Records, who is also the Communications Director.  Requests can be made in person, by telephone, electronic mail, fax, email, mail, etc. Specifically identify the records you seek with as much detail as possible to help us locate the records.

Contact information for the Custodian of Records:

Rebecca Woelfel
Communications Director
Department of Social Services
PO Box 1527, Jefferson City, MO 65102
[email protected]
Phone: 573-751-4815
Fax: 573-751-3203

If you are seeking information, send it directly to the division, unit, or to our Custodian of Records and we will forward your request to the appropriate staff.  You may also request your own records, or records you are legally entitled to.

If I am charged for records, how do I make a payment?

State law and regulation authorize the Department of Social Services (DSS) to charge for providing records under the Sunshine Law. If you receive an invoice for the cost of a request, you will need to make payment before records will be provided to you.  DSS only accepts payment in the form of check or money order.  Make checks or money orders payable to "DSS Administrative Fund" and send to:

MO Department of Social Services
Division of Legal Services
Attn:  Sunshine Law Request
Broadway Office Building, Room 230
PO Box 1527
Jefferson City, MO 65102

What should I include in my request?

For every request for information, please identify as specifically as possible exactly what information or record you are requesting from the Department or division and be prepared to present verification of your identity to establish your entitlement under applicable law to the information/record requested.

Requests from the Media

Most individual records or information maintained by the Department of Social Services (DSS) are closed and confidential under state and federal laws.  However, the Director of the Department of Social Services does have the authority to release information and findings about child abuse and neglect cases which resulted in a child fatality or near fatality. The Director can consider whether it is appropriate to release information or findings about the case after the investigation is concluded and the Department has had the opportunity to consider the impact of the release of information on other children within the immediate family, the criminal investigation or any legal proceedings arising out of the case in the manner required by law.  This process is initiated only upon formal request submitted to the Custodian of Records.  Investigations typically are concluded within 180 days.

If you are looking for general information about the Children's Division Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline and child abuse and neglect investigations, the following resources may be helpful:

Additional Resources