The Missouri State Highway Patrol joined more than a 100 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers this week in a statewide effort to ensure the safety and well-being of Missouri’s foster children.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Kansas City Region led the investigation.  Operation H.O.P.E. (Helping Oppressed People Escape) is an initiative aimed at locating and recovering children missing from Missouri’s Foster Care Program.  The operation resulted in successfully locating 23 program runaways from age 13 to 17. Operation H.O.P.E. focused on the Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield metropolitan areas, and ultimately spanned across several Missouri counties.  The goal of the officers was to ensure the safety of the foster children, while identifying and eliminating fraud and abuse occurring within Missouri’s Foster Care Program. As a direct result of this operation, five individuals were arrested, and 23 additional investigations were generated, four of which are for human trafficking.