FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2021
DSS begins receiving notification forms and background check applications in response to House Bill 557
JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) has begun receiving notification forms from licensed-exempt residential care facilities and applications for background checks from licensed and licensed-exempt residential care facilities and child placing agencies in response to House Bill (HB) 557. On July 14, Governor Mike Parson signed into law HB 557 to help protect children at licensed and license-exempt residential care facilities and child placing agencies.
HB 557 (13 CSR 35-71.300) requires license-exempt residential care facilities to notify DSS of their presence in Missouri and other organization specific information related to their intent to serve children. A license-exempt residential care facility includes any agency that provides 24-hour care in a group setting to children and is exempt from licensure. Examples of license-exempt residential care facilities include religious-based institutions, institutions run by the state or county, educational programs where children stay overnight, or entities offering a sleep-away camp to children such as summer camp or scouts. For more information about how to submit notification to DSS or the notification process, visit our website. Notification forms for existing license-exempt facilities are due by October 12, 2021.
In addition, HB 557 (13 CSR 35-71.015) requires all licensed and license-exempt residential care facilities and child placing agencies ensure background checks are completed on anyone in the facility who has access to children. This includes officers, managers, contractors, volunteers, employees, and any other support staff. Agencies and facilities which were in operation on July 14, 2021 must complete the background check process by December 31, 2021. Failure to provide the required background checks by the deadline will put the agency at risk for legal action. For more information about the updated background check requirements or to apply for a background check, please visit our website.
HB 557 specifies DSS can petition a court for an order for a licensed-exempt residential care facility to present a child who is the alleged victim of child abuse or neglect to a Children’s Division worker for an assessment of the child’s health, safety, and well-being. The legislation adds that in addition to referring the case to the juvenile officer with a recommendation for further action such as removal of a child, DSS can also make a referral to the Attorney General. The bill also specifies fines and misdemeanor charges for noncompliance with background screenings and access or removal of an alleged victim.
The Department of Social Services strongly encourages anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect to call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-392-3738. The Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is answered 24-hours a day, every day, all year round. Visit dss.mo.gov for more information and follow DSS on Facebook and Twitter.
The mission of the Department of Social Services is to empower Missourians to live safe, healthy, and productive lives.