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Politics

Children's Division Director Resigns

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/childrensd_116.mp3

The director of the state Children's Division has resigned. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The director of the state Children's Division has resigned.

State officials confirmed Tuesday that Fred Simmens resigned last week.

Paula Neese, a Children's Division employee, has been named interim director.

Simmens was appointed in 2003 and served as the first director of the state Children's Division.

The state's child welfare system was revamped following the 2002 death of two-year-old foster child Dominic James of Springfield.

In addition to Simmens' resignation, Bev Long, the circuit manager of the Children's Division offices in Southwest Missouri recently retired.

During an appearance in Springfield Tuesday, Governor Matt Blunt declined to comment directly on the circumstances under which Simmens and Long left the Children's Division.

The governor went on to say that he's looking for people who will implement changes he wants to see in state departments.

The governor did not indicate if he, himself or the director of the Social Services Department Gary Sherman initiated the process that led to the personnel changes.

A Department of Social Services spokeswoman won't say whether Simmens was asked to resign, but said his departure was not tied to a particular event.