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Judge Darrell Missey to lead Children’s Division

EXCLUSIVE — Judge Darrell E. Missey of Jefferson County has been selected to lead the Children’s Division as its new director. 

“As I’ve engaged with stakeholders across the entire spectrum of child welfare, I’ve heard loud and clear that our Children’s Division needs strong partnerships. Bringing Judge Missey over from the judiciary will add a vital perspective to our team,” Robert Knodell, acting director of the Department of Social Services (DSS), told The Missouri Times. 

Joan Rogers, who had been serving as the interim director of the Children’s Division, is expected to stay on at DSS. 

Missey is a circuit judge in Jefferson County where he also serves as an administrative judge of the family court. He is a former partner at Wegmann Law Firm in Hillsboro — where he focused on family and juvenile court matters — and teaches juvenile justice to his colleagues at the yearly judicial college. 

For the past 15 years, Missey has served on the Supreme Court of Missouri’s Family Court Committee. He is the former chair of Missouri’s Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Replication Team and has served on the Children’s Services Commission. 

Missey was first elected to a full judgeship in 2014 after serving as an associate judge on the Jefferson County 23rd Judicial Circuit Court. As an associate judge, Missey often worked on foster care cases. 

He was recently considered for a spot on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District. 

“Judge Missey has worked effectively and tirelessly from the bench to protect children,” Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, whose district includes Jefferson County, said. “Given the many challenges facing the division, I am grateful to the governor for thinking outside the box. Bringing someone in with strong leadership and an understanding of the system lets the state start anew and get to work day one. Kids in Missouri can’t wait.” 

The Children’s Division, housed under DSS, oversees child welfare services and is responsible for the safety and well-being of the state’s children. 

The agency has come under recent scrutiny in the legislature after a federal report said Missouri’s foster care agency failed to adequately protect or locate children who went missing from foster care or properly provide mental health and medical care to those who were found. Rogers told lawmakers earlier this year that previous DSS officials had policies that didn’t require certain documentation when families’ needs were assessed. 

Missey is an alumnus of Truman State University and Saint Louis University School of Law.