On Jan 22, 2024, Informed Health Choice issued an action alert warning Missouri parents about Representative Gragg’s HB 1951, the bill that would put into limits on the number of times children who have been removed from their home could be returned to their parents. Thank you to everyone who filled out a witness form or went in person the hearing for this bill. Thank you also for your emails and phone calls.
The bill had the following witness forms submitted:
623 – IN OPPOSITION
4 – IN SUPPORT
2 – For Informational Purposes
Some have made the point that a Missouri statute already exists that details the process of removing a child from his or her home if the parent(s) is suspected of abuse or neglect. The statute to which they refer is RSMo 210.125
Section 210.125 allows a police officer, law enforcement or physician to temporarily take a child into protective custody if they believe the child may be harmed before a juvenile officer can take emergency custody of the child, or the juvenile court can issue a protective order.
The temporary custody described in 210.125 cannot exceed 24 hours unless approved by the juvenile court. The child may be temporarily kept in a hospital or medical facility, emergency foster care facility or “other suitable custody arrangement as the court directs.” The child cannot be kept in a jail.
A police officer, law enforcement officer or physician who temporarily takes the child into protective custody must notify the juvenile officer and must attempt to notify the parent.
HB 1951 does not effect 210.125.
HB 1951 says that when a child is removed from the home, the child is placed in foster care. The parent(s) is given 12 months to complete a rehabilitation program. If they do not complete the program, the child is put up for adoption.
If the parent completes the program they regain custody and have to receive biweekly supervised visits.
A second removal results in 6 months to rehabilitate or lose one’s child. A third removal results in the child being put in foster care and put up for adoption.
What is the problem with HB 1951?
The bill sponsor, Representative Gragg, has said that this bill was intended to help children by setting up clear goals for parents to reach to get their children back. However, this bill is not the way to solve the problems of children returning going in and out of foster care.
This bill sets arbitrary and rigid conditions on the manner by which a child can be reunited with their parent. Juvenile courts already handle these cases and are the best place to determine the best interests of the child in keeping with the rule of law and as indicated by the unique facts and circumstances of each case.
This bill is heavy handed, micromanages and limits the authority of the juvenile courts to handle suspected child abuse cases. It places the child for adoption without the customary legal protections given to the parent and child – notice, hearing and so on. Removing a parent’s parental rights is very serious and cannot be done by placing arbitrary deadlines and conditions on that relationship. This bill violates the US Constitution and Missouri constitution.
The hearing for HB 1951 was eye-opening. For anyone who has questions about the arguments against this bill, click the link below, then scroll to the 11:01 mark to watch. Be sure to listen to all the testimony.
What happens next?
It is unclear whether this bill will be brought up for an executive vote. Please contact the committee members and urge them to vote NO on HB 1951 if it comes up for vote. You can find their names and contact information here:
Rep. Hannah Kelly, Chairman District 141 R Mountain Grove 573-751-2205
Rep. Wendy Hausman, Vice-Chairman District 065 R St. Peters 573-751-3717
Rep. Raychel Proudie, Ranking Minority Member 073 D Ferguson 573-751-0855
Rep. Ingrid Burnett 019 D Kansas City 573-751-3310
*Rep. Jamie Gragg 140 R Ozark 573-751-2565
Rep. Holly Jones 088 R Eureka 573-751-7535
Rep. Ann Kelley 127 R Lamar 573-751-2165
Rep. Ed Lewis 006 R Moberly 573-751-6566
Rep. Peggy McGaugh 007 R Carrollton 573-751-2917
Rep. Marlene Terry 066 D St Louis 573-751-6845
*Bill Sponsor for HB 1951
Background on HB 1951
HB 1951. This legislation could allow a child to be placed in foster care the first time they were removed from the home due to suspicion of abuse from law enforcement or a physician. The first such incident would require the parents to complete a rehabilitation or training program with bi-weekly supervised visits for a period of 12 months before getting their child back. If the parents fail to complete the course, the child would be immediately placed in the custody of the children’s division and placed for adoption.
The second time the child were to be removed from the home, the parents would have 6 months to complete the course or forfeit parental rights. The third time, the child would be moved to foster care and placed for adoption and the parents forced to relinquish parental rights to the state.
Read the bill here: https://documents.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills241/hlrbillspdf/4710H.01I.pdf
Removing children from the home pursuant to an administrative process is dangerous and can be abused. Children in foster care are often abused. There are cases where police, physicians, politicians, judges, and others were involved in child trafficking. If this bill were to become law, the private and personal decisions made by families such as refusal to vaccinate one’s child or refuse any kind of medical treatment that a doctor wants could be wrongly used against parents.
This bill MUST BE WITHDRAWN. It cannot be amended or improved. The parent child relationship is sacred. Constitutions, laws, and court cases are already in place protecting parents’ rights. Law enforcement, police officers and physicians may act as witnesses and already are, but the courts should ALWAYS be involved at every stage of the process.
The current system with court supervision and the protection of the law for parent AND child does not need a bill like HB 1951.
Informed Health Choice Legislative Team