Determining the Best Interests of the Child - Missouri

Date: September 2023

Guiding Principles

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 211.011

The purpose of this chapter is to facilitate the care, protection, and discipline of children who come within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. This chapter shall be liberally construed, therefore, to the end that each child coming within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court shall receive the care, guidance, and control that is conducive to the child's welfare and the best interests of the State. When the child is removed from the control of their parents the court shall secure for them care as nearly as possible equivalent to that which should have been given the child by their parents. The child welfare policy of this State is what is in the best interests of the child.

Best Interests Factors

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 210.001(1) 

The Department of Social Services shall address the needs of homeless, dependent, and neglected children in the supervision and custody of the Children's Division and to their families-in-conflict by doing the following: 

  • Serving children and families as a unit in the least restrictive setting available and in close proximity to the family home, consistent with the best interests and special needs of the child 
  • Ensuring that appropriate social services are provided to the family unit both prior to the removal of the child from the home and after family reunification
  • Developing and implementing preventive and early intervention social services that have demonstrated the ability to delay or reduce the need for out-of-home placements and ameliorate problems before they become chronic 

Other Considerations

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 211.443

The provisions of this section shall be construed to promote the best interests and welfare of the child, as determined by the juvenile court, in consideration of the following:

  • The recognition and protection of the constitutional rights of all parties in the proceedings
  • The recognition and protection of the birth family relationship, when possible and appropriate
  • The entitlement of every child to a permanent and stable home