Foster Care and Adoption in Greene County: Currently a "Crisis Situation"

By Jennifer Kielman |

Published 05/06 2014 08:21PM

Updated 05/06 2014 09:32PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Springfield has the best schools, crime is low and new businesses are popping up everywhere. But, believe it or not, Greene County has the highest rate of child abuse in the state of Missouri, even higher than Kansas City, and even St. Louis.

The County is taking nearly 42 children a month into foster care because of abuse of neglect.

Sadly, the state has a hard time finding a place for these kids to go. 

There is a major need for foster families here in Southwest Missouri.  

When it comes to the foster care system in Greene County, it's in crisis mode.

In February 2014 alone, there were 884 children in the foster care system in Greene County. Only 474 were placed in homes locally.

According to Beth Atchison, the Development Director at CASA of Southwest Missouri, there are only 120 homes for those children to go. 

Because of a lack of foster families, 410 children are being are being spread out across the state.

Atchison says that puts them further away from family and their friends and it's harder in this county to keep a handle on them.

Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, helps children who have been removed by a judge from a home because of abuse and neglect.

Atchison says there's a vicious cycle of child abuse in the county.
They see it on a daily basis and it needs to stop.

“These are families where children are receiving abuse because mom and dad have mental health issues, there's poverty, there's drugs, alcohol,” she says. “There are a number of things that come into play."

And children are getting the brunt of it.

"Unless we intervene early on, then you are setting that child up to being an abuser themselves,” says Atchison. “Many of times, for girls, we find that they get involved in an abusive relationship as an adult. And so that cycle just continues."

Early intervention costs all of us money; about $4,500 a child over a lifetime, meaning up to 18 years old.

But, according to Atchison, when the state isn't able to intervene on a child's behalf, the cost to society is nearly a quarter of a million dollars per child.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, direct costs for services to abused children total more than $33 billion annually. Indirect costs are an additional $47 billion.

But the damage to each child emotionally is hard to calculate.

Atchison says by finding these children a permanent, safe and loving home the cycle can be stopped.

"By them getting that loving family, and placing them in a loving family and getting them the help they need, then we see them grow as a person,” she says. “The Farrar family is a wonderful example of someone who is willing to take children in and to love them as their own."

Michael and Cori Farrar recently adopted two little boys; 3-year-old Seth and his big brother, 5-year-old Andrew.

They're half brothers, brought to the Farrar's home initially as foster children and victims of abuse and neglect.

Jennifer Kielman will tell you about their journey Wednesday, May 7 on KOLR10 at 10 p.m.

Statistics provided by CASA of Southwest Missouri: 

The median cost to provide a CASA volunteer to one child for a year is $1,040, which covers training, staff support and other costs.

The Center for Disease Control estimates the lifetime cost for each victim of child maltreatment who lived was at $210,012, which is comparable to other costly health conditions such as stroke with a lifetime cost per person estimated at $159,846 or type 2 diabetes, which is estimated between $181,000 and $253,000., totaling as much as $124 billion for all children each year. 

Published in Child Abuse and Neglect, The International JournalExternal Web Site Icon, the study looked at confirmed child maltreatment cases. There were 1,740 fatal and 579,000 non-fatal cases for a 12-month period. Findings show each death due to child maltreatment had a lifetime cost of about $1.3 million, almost all of it in money that the child would have earned over a lifetime if he or she had lived.

The estimated average lifetime cost per surviving victim includes:

• $32,648 in childhood healthcare costs

• $10,530 in adult medical costs

• $144,360 in productivity losses

• $7,728 in child welfare costs

• $6,747 in criminal justice costs

• $7,999 in special education costs

Direct costs for services to abused children total over $33 billion annually. Indirect costs are an additional $47 billion.

In Missouri, 35,468 children have a parent in state prison.

In a study of young adults who suffered child abuse or neglect, 80 percent met criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder by age 21, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts.

A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study of homeless youth found that 46 percent of those surveyed had escaped a home where they suffered physical abuse, and 17 percent left because of sexual abuse. This directly relates to why we have such a high rate of homeless youth in Greene County.

14 percent of all men in prison in the USA were abused as children.
36 percent of all women in prison were abused as children.

Children who experience child abuse & neglect are 59 percent more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28 percent more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30 percent more likely to commit violent crimes.

(Provided by Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division)

To be a Foster or Adoptive parent, you must: 

Be at least 21 years of age

Complete a Childre abuse/neglect check and criminal record check
Be in good health, both physically and mentally

Have a stable income

Be willing to participate in and complete a free training and assessment process

Be part of a professional team willing to voice perspectives and concerns 

Be willing to partner with the child's family

You can: 

Be with or without children

Be single or married

Own or rent a home, apartment, condo or other residence that meets the licensing standards


Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Featured Coupon