Missouri state agencies gain more oversight authority over religious private facilities for troubled teens under a new law written in response to former students’ complaints of abuse. The law was drafted after women who had been placed at the Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch in rural Missouri came forward with allegations that they’d been hit, restrained, starved, and sexually abused at the unregulated facility. Under the new law, which took effect immediately after signing, private residential care facilities like Circle of Hope can remain unlicensed, but they now have to notify the Missouri Department of Social Services that they exist, and all employees and volunteers have to undergo background checks. The law also gives the Department of Social Services increased authority to investigate abuse allegations at the facilities and charts a path for the agency to petition courts to remove children based on safety concerns. Additionally, the facilities have to pass fire and health department inspections.