A local state representative is hosting two sets of public meetings in early November, aimed at assisting seniors and hearing public concerns on child abuse reporting.

Rep. Bill Lant will host two Medicare Part D meetings on Wednesday, Nov. 6, with the first scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Seneca Library, 1216 Cherokee Ave. in Seneca, and the second meeting to be held that afternoon from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Pineville Library, 808 Bailey Road in Pineville.

Lant said these are the first sessions he has held regarding the federal prescription drug coverage program.

“The reason we’re doing it is to help people get signed up,” Lant said. “It’s confusing a lot of times with what some of the options are and some of the ways of applying.”

Lant said state representatives from CLAIM, a publicly funded counseling service that works to provide information to Missouri residents on Medicare, will be on hand to assist those signing up at the sessions.

“Some of the different groups that I’ve talked to have said they thought it would be a good idea if we had these,” Lant said.

Lant said the sessions are being held at libraries, where public computers are available for use, because the program has an online sign-up.

The following day, Thursday, Nov. 7, Lant will host a listening post from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the community room at the Seneca Telephone Company, located at 816 Oneida St. in Seneca regarding children’s services.

Lant serves as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Child Abuse Reporting and Investigating.
He said the public meeting is intended to gather public concerns regarding the child abuse hotline, child removal from a home, investigations and placement of children.

Lant said the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, which is comprised of seven state senators and seven representatives, was included on a senate bill two years ago, and became law in August 2012.

“I started holding meetings when we convened session in January,” Lant said. “I’ve held eight committee hearings so far on my subcommittee.”

Lant said those committee meetings have included presentations from department heads from children’s services, juvenile officers, detectives, judges and prosecutors.

“We’ve had each of those groups come in and do a PowerPoint presentation for us, after which we called them back in and asked questions,” Lant said. “So now we’ve got all that information, that was the goal of the committee the first year was to compile information.”

Lant said the committee has a total of six years to work with children’s services, and are currently at the point in their investigation that they are collecting public input.

“We need to find out what people think of the system,” Lant said. “Have they had good experiences? Have they had bad experiences? What do we need to work on changing?”

Lant has already held one listening post on the subject, a daytime session in Pineville.

He said approximately 40 people turned out to share their thoughts and concerns on the system.

Following the Seneca session on Nov. 7, Lant will hold another listening post from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the community building at New Mac Electric, 9 Mustang Drive in Anderson.

Lant said once the committee has finished gathering public input, they will start to look into the problems identified and begin searching for solutions to those problems.

“There may be instances where we have to change the law, there may be instances where it’s just going to take more money,” Lant said. “There may be plenty of money, we may just be spending it in the wrong places. Or we may actually need to hire some additional people. If that’s the case then by all means that’s what we’re going to do.”

He said one problem has already been identified and corrected.

Previously, if a teacher or school staff member saw or suspected child abuse, they needed to go through the school principal to have that abuse reported.

“Then the principal would review that and either make a call or not make a call,” Lant said. “We passed a law last year that enables anyone that works for a school district to make that call.”

For more information on Lant’s upcoming public meetings, contact him at his Jefferson City office at 573-751-9801 or on his cell phone at 417-437-8223.