Tidball said she is working with budget writers and a consultant to improve the pay of the frontline workers.
The consultant, Accenture, has been paid $500,000 for its work in the most recent fiscal year, state payroll records say.
According to the report, Department of Social Services employees cannot rely on the agency’s case management system to accurately identify children who are missing from foster care without reviewing individual case files.
To better protect children from the risks associated with being missing from foster care, the report recommends Missouri develop policies to help identify children who have a heightened risk of going missing from care and interventions that could reduce their risk.
The report also recommends Missouri deploy a monitoring mechanism to ensure case managers are complying with requirements. The state also needs a procedure in place to document when children are identified as missing and when they are located or return to care.
Tidball said a revamped caseload tracking system would cost an estimated $35 million.
Outside observers say problems in the agency are well-known.
“I think we have an agency in duress,” Kelly Schultz, director of the Office of Child Advocate, told the committee.