Past Events

Missouri child welfare leader speaks about strengthening families through prevention policy

Judge Darrell Missey, head of the Missouri Children’s Division, spoke to a packed house in Brown Lounge last month about his initiative to introduce prevention workers across the state, whose role is to engage with families before challenges escalate.

Brown School Dean Dorian Traube welcomed attendees, remarking on the turnout and lengthy list of co-sponsors. “The Brown School really cares about ensuring that families have everything they need to thrive, and Judge Missey has dedicated his entire career to this same mission,” Dean Traube shared. 

A former family court judge, Judge Missey shared his unique experience from both behind the bench and now leading policy reform. Missey said, “There are good reasons to avoid foster care. And one reason is it involves trauma…I learned this being a really young lawyer for these kids and then being the judge and actually talking to them.” Missey highlighted the body of research around foster care trauma, which indicates that children in care are more likely to be addicted, more likely to commit crimes, likely to complete school, and more likely to be unemployed. “We admire policymakers who rely on the research to guide their decision-making process. “We appreciate Judge Missey’s forward-thinking, thoughtful leadership and are grateful to have a leader with his skills working for Missouri families,” said Gary Parker, institute Director.

Missey outlined a new, proactive approach to engage at-risk families, provide other avenues to help besides the child abuse and neglect hotline, create help in the community, and safely use the least invasive intervention. His new plan provides an additional 100 prevention workers throughout the state who are trained in team decision-making and family-centered services. Focusing on prevention would not only reduce trauma for children and their families but would also save money that could be directed toward additional prevention services. Missey estimated that reducing the number of children placed in foster care in Missouri to meet the national average would save upwards of $165 million. Missey said, “We will save people’s lives, save people’s hearts, and save people money if we do this differently.”

This event was co-sponsored by the Clark-Fox Policy Institute, Center for Social Development, Center for Violence and Injury Prevention, Social Policy Institute, Hermann Center for Child and Family Development, Center for Innovation in Child Maltreatment, Policy, Research and Training, Center for Community Health Partnership & Research, and the Institute for Public Health.