Clara Bates covers social services and poverty for The Missouri Independent. She previously wrote for the Nevada Current, where she reported on labor violations in casinos, hurdles facing applicants for unemployment benefits and lax oversight of the funeral industry. She also wrote about vocational education for Democracy Journal. Bates is a graduate of Harvard College and is a Report for America corps member.
Bipartisan group of Missouri lawmakers demand Agape Boarding School be shut down
By: Clara Bates - September 28, 2022
A bipartisan chorus of Missouri lawmakers joined together on Twitter Wednesday to call for Agape Boarding School to be shut down.
Top Missouri lawmaker urges federal prosecutors to intervene in Agape abuse case
By: Clara Bates - September 26, 2022
Missouri’s highest ranking legislator is asking federal prosecutors to intervene and shut down Agape Boarding School, alleging “undeniable corruption” and “inaction” by local officials who he says “could do the right thing and have consistently chosen not to.” House Speaker Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, made his request last Wednesday in a letter to Teresa Moore, United […]
Missouri judge once again delays decision on closing Agape Boarding School
By: Clara Bates - September 21, 2022
A Cedar County judge on Wednesday again delayed ruling on the state’s efforts to close Agape Boarding School, the Stockton-based reform school facing mounting abuse allegations — allowing the school to stay open until at least the next hearing, which is scheduled for Monday.
‘This job is impossible’: High turnover, low morale plague Missouri child welfare agency
By: Clara Bates - September 19, 2022
Eighty open cases of child abuse and neglect sat on Matt Cordova’s desk in 2017 during the height of the “hole I found myself buried in,” he remembers. Twenty open cases would have been a lot to handle; 80 was impossible. An investigator at Missouri’s child welfare department for two years, Cordova was tasked with […]
Missouri judge once again delays closing Agape Boarding School
By: Clara Bates - September 12, 2022
A Cedar County judge Monday morning delayed a decision on the closure of Agape Boarding School, the Stockton-based reform school facing mounting abuse allegations from former students. Judge David Munton initially ordered Agape be shut down last week at the request of the state Attorney General and Department of Social Services. The state’s petition for […]
Court order would close Agape Boarding School after years of abuse allegations
By: Clara Bates and Tessa Weinberg - September 8, 2022
A Cedar County judge Wednesday ordered Agape Boarding School to be shut down after years of allegations of sexual and physical abuse of students — though the order remains on pause until after a hearing Thursday afternoon.
Missouri substantiated 10 claims of physical abuse at Agape in last four months
By: Clara Bates - September 6, 2022
Missouri investigators over the last four months have substantiated 10 claims of physical abuse at Agape Boarding School, a Christian reform school in Stockton that faces mounting accusations of abuse, lawsuits and calls for its closure by former students. According to records turned over to The Independent under Missouri’s Sunshine Law by the state Department […]
Federal report shows Missouri Medicaid application wait times among worst in nation
By: Clara Bates - September 2, 2022
A federal report released Thursday shows that Missouri ranks at or near the bottom nationally in terms of processing Medicaid applications in the federally-permitted time.
Advocates praise Missouri’s new child trafficking law as promising first step
By: Clara Bates - August 30, 2022
A new law that went into effect this week seeks to improve how Missouri combats child sex trafficking by preventing underaged survivors from being charged with prostitution, and requiring law enforcement to immediately report suspected cases to the state.
Missouri Medicaid wait list averages 90 days. The state has a month to cut it in half
By: Clara Bates - August 27, 2022
Where the state stands regarding Medicaid wait lists was just one topic Friday of a wide-ranging media briefing held by leaders within the Missouri Department of Social Services, or DSS.
Lawsuits mounting against unlicensed Missouri boarding schools accused of abuse
By: Clara Bates - August 22, 2022
Thirty lawsuits have been filed over the last two years against a pair of southwest Missouri boarding schools accused by former students of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
Missouri officials vow progress as Medicaid applicant wait time remains at 100 days
By: Clara Bates - August 10, 2022
State health officials faced tough questions Wednesday from the board overseeing Missouri’s Medicaid program — with a focus on the persistently long wait times for applicants and heightened federal scrutiny of the program.