St. Louis Public Radio News
Fri October 17, 2008
Hearing examines DSS Children's Division
By Marshall Griffin, KWMU
Jefferson City, MO – A Missouri House committee conducted hearings this week into complaints lodged against the Children's Division of the Department of Social Services (DSS).
Mark Zachius, a former Missouri resident, testified that the division removed his son from their home after a teacher at his school spotted a small bruise on his arm.
"He essentially said, 'You know, I don't know where I got the bruise...I played football over the weekend...I was cleaning...I was wrestling with my brothers,'" Zachius said.
Zachius testified that no evidence of abuse was ever found.
His son was eventually returned to him, but he began exhibiting behavior problems Zachius says were not present before. He blames a pair of permissive foster parents for that.
Others talked of instances where workers didn't thoroughly investigate sex abuse allegations and in at least one case altered records.
Brian Hauswirth is Communications Director for the Department of Social Services.
"The Children's Division will be, and is, looking into specific concerns that were brought up...many were ones that we have heard before, but we were troubled by some of the allegations and we are in the process of looking into (them)," Hauswirth said.
Hauswirth also said DSS is cooperating with the House Interim Committee on Student and Child Protection, which is conducting the hearings. The next one is tentatively scheduled for November.