Child welfare changes OK on appeal

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The state's recent reorganization of its child welfare and protection services is legal, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The Missouri Court of Appeals found the newly created Family Support Division has the authority to collect child support, overturning the ruling of a Jackson County judge.

Gov. Bob Holden reorganized the state's child welfare services agency earlier this year in response to the death of a 2-year-old foster child in the Springfield area and an investigation that found a "complete breakdown" in Missouri's child welfare system.

The governor's reorganization abolished the Division of Child Support Enforcement, and placed its responsibilities with the new Family Support Division.

A 1974 state law gives the Division of Child Support Enforcement the power to collect child support.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Marco A.

Roldan ruled on Sept. 10 that state law did not give the new Family Support Division that same collection power.

Roldan's ruling, which confirmed a decision by Family Court Commissioner Sherrill L. Rosen, applied only to Jackson County, which collected about $55 million in child support last fiscal year.

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