The primary roles of the Juvenile Office as established by 211.031 RSMo. can be broken down into three distinct areas of service with the first being child abuse and neglect cases, the second being delinquency cases and the third being status offenses.
A case of child abuse and neglect is a situation involving a child under the age of 18 years of age that is physically, sexually or emotionally abused by those responsible for the care, custody and control of the child. With regard to child abuse and neglect cases the Juvenile Office acts as an arm of the court ensuring that each of these particular cases moves through the court process in an efficient manner and that all court orders are followed. Throughout the case the Juvenile Office will work collaboratively with the Missouri Children's Division and participate in the family support team process which is designed to assist the family in getting services they need to function more effectively.
A delinquency case is one where a child under the age of 17 years of age commits an act which would be considered a crime if committed by an adult. The role of the Juvenile Office in these types of cases is to ensure that the rights of the juvenile are protected through the investigative process and that victims have an opportunity to be heard. The Juvenile Office also decides as to whether or not a case is processed formally with the Juvenile Court or informally with an agreement between the parents and the Juvenile Office. In these types of cases on going support, counsel and education are provided to the youth and their families.
A status offense is an offense in which when the child is beyond parental control and is not considered a crime if committed by an adult such as skipping school, running away or failing to follow reasonable parental directives. In these types of cases the Juvenile Office's role is to move the case through the Juvenile Court process in an efficient manner and work collaboratively with the Missouri Children's Division, parents and other service providers to assist the child and the family.