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20 October 2011

Lichtenegger: Know Your Missouri State Departments: Department of Social Services

As you can imagine the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) is a large State Department. Its services are included in the Human Services portion of the state’s operating budget. The below pie chart –obtained from the Office of Administration’s Budget & Planning division- indicates this to be 44.9% of Missouri’s total 2012 Fiscal Year operating budget. Link here for a downloadable copy of The Missouri Budget Fiscal Year 2012. The breakdown of the budget particulars for the Department of Social Services starts on page 11-1.

Given the large portion of the state expense for social services, it would benefit all taxpayers to report suspected public assistance fraud. Fraud is first reported to local DSS offices. The investigative office for the Southeast region is located in Sikeston.

The department’s most used services reflect the most needed: Child Support Enforcement, Children’s Services, Food Stamps. MO HealthNet (Medicaid) and the low income home energy assistance program.

It has three main divisions: the Program Divisions, Office of the Director and the Support Divisions each contains sub-divisions that handle certain programs and services.

Only the Program Division handles the public services; its sub-divisions include - Children's Division: Adoption, Foster Care, Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, Family Centered Services, Intensive In-Home Services; Family Support Division: Food Stamps, Child Support Enforcement, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Welfare), Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, Eligibility Determination for MO HealthNet and MO HealthNet for Kids; MO HealthNet Division: Families, Kids, Pregnant Women and Infants, Blind, Elderly and Disabled, MoRx; and the Division of Youth Services: Juvenile Justice.

The Office of the Director harbors the department’s Human Resources; the Research and Evaluation Units that produces departmental reports and handles the Child Fatality Review Program; and finally the Support Division supports the administrative and legal aspects of the department and the state (not individuals).

You can link here to explore the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which has two components: Energy Assistance/Regular Heating (EA) and Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP). The EA is designed to provide financial assistance to help pay heating bills for Missourians during the months of October, November, December, January, February, and March. Eligibility requirements for EA are based on income, family size, available resources and responsibility for payment of home heating costs. Eligibility for EA may also qualify individuals for additional financial assistance through ECIP.

Constituent Corner

I visited this class of third-grade students at Jackson Elementary last week. This school year the Encore teachers set a Missouri state theme, so all the Encore classes revolve around state information. For example in physical education they have a climbing wall with Missouri landmarks; in music, the students will learn songs from Missouri; and during library time they hear about Missourian authors.

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