15th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City
Steve Roling was appointed Director of the Department of Social Services in March 2003, giving him responsibility for the nearly 850,000 Missourians the Department annually serves through its children's services, income assistance, Medicaid, and related social service programs. During Mr. Roling's tenure with the Department, he proved instrumental in many exemplary improvements to Missouri's child welfare system.
Mr. Roling believes accountability, feedback, and openness to the public to be crucial elements to success. He directed many community partners involved in Department work at both the local and State level to truly serve the needs of the clients. Mr. Roling promoted strong working and personal relationships with community partners. He listened to recommendations on the part of community partners, staff, the State Auditor, and multiple Commissions and then proceeded to turn these recommendations into action. These actions include: establishing, renewing, and improving communication and training between the Department of Social Services and other components of the child welfare system; implementing dramatic improvements in the Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline; increasing efforts to locate relatives or others who support families as placement resources for children who cannot remain safely in their own families; cooperating with the Missouri Department of Mental Health to ensure that families relinquish custody in order for their children to access mental health services; and collaborating with the Missouri Department of Corrections to provide parenting training for incarcerated fathers.
Mr. Roling became the first Department Director in many years to shadow hotline call takers and investigators, as well as to hold monthly pizza parties with foster children. He engaged in these activities to understand firsthand what happens in the daily lives of Missouri's children and workers.