JEFFERSON CITY - The Commission on Children's Justice is forming small working groups to investigate the variety of problems it has discussed relating to juvenile justice.
On Monday, the commission worked on forming subgroups to pursue solutions to individual issues, from the actions of juvenile judges to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
"We've got to go from being investigative to deliberative at some point," Judge Glenn Norton, vice chairman of the commission, told the members.
Norton said he and Judge John C. Holstein of Springfield, the commission chairman who was not present Monday, discussed establishing the small working groups as a means for moving the committee forward in its task.
"If we try to handle it in a big group meeting like this, we're never going to do it justice," Norton said.
Norton said some commission members are growing frustrated that the large group has not yet produced any results, but he said members have spent this past month gathering information about the issues.
Since the commission's first meeting on Feb. 3, it has listened to presenters discuss issues including the privatization of foster care, the DFS budget, and the licensing of foster parents and foster care facilities.
"We have a lot of information to absorb and then make recommendations from it," said Julie Cole Agee, executive director of the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association and member of the commission.
The commission is supposed to submit an interim report on its work by March 28. Norton said he hopes the report can include strengths and weaknesses of the current juvenile justice system as well as key issues the commission will focus on as it continues its work.
In the end, Norton said the commission's goal is to create a list of recommendations that each organization involved -- the legislature, the Division of Family Services and the juvenile court system -- can work on.
Norton said each subgroup will be balanced with commission members from the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government. He said future meetings will likely consist of a full committee session with a presenter followed by breakout meetings of the subgroups.
The commission discussed the five recommended breakdowns for the small groups: prevention, hot line intake, foster and relative care, juvenile courts and judicial proceedings, and privatization. Commission members were invited to offer suggestions and changes this week, and Norton said he hopes to have the subgroups established by Monday's meeting.
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