Missouri Department of Social Services

The Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider two cases that could have far-reaching implications for the civil rights protections granted to the state’s LGBTQ community.

The judges will be asked to determine whether the Missouri Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, even though the words are not in the act itself. Lower courts are split on the issue.

Two national child advocacy organizations have filed a federal lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Social Services, alleging that children in the state’s foster care system are over-prescribed psychotropic medications with little oversight.

“They’re prescribed off-label, to control behaviors,” said Bill Grimm, an attorney for the National Center for Youth Law, which filed the lawsuit on Monday. “While many other states have instituted some sort of oversight … Missouri has very little to none of those safeguards in place.”

The suit seeks class action status. State officials declined comment, citing pending litigation.

t.j.gordon / Flickr

The Missouri Department of Social Services has received authorization from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to operate a Disaster Food Stamp Program in 27 counties across the state.  The program will provide food assistance to those directly impacted by the recent flooding.

According to MDSS, families receiving food stamp benefits and families typically not qualified for the program may be eligible to receive the Disaster Food Stamp benefit if they have suffered property damage, loss of income, relocation or loss of food due to flooding in late April.

Stephan Wolschon / (Flickr)

Gov. Jay Nixon has announced the availability of additional federal funding to help low-income Missourians stay warm this winter.

Nixon said Friday that the Missouri Department of Social Services has made more than $4.5 million in extra funds available through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The Program’s Energy Crisis Intervention initiative makes payments to energy providers for households who have their energy service terminated or received a threat of disconnection, or who are running short of purchased fuel.  

Harmony House facebook page

Missouri’s domestic violence shelters are almost all operating at full capacity:  they had to reject women and children seeking shelter more than 21,000 times last year.  In today’s part of our series, “Turned Away,” KSMU’s Jennifer Davidson looks at the funding for Missouri’s shelters, and how that money is being spent.