by: Emily Manley, Ozarks First
Foster parents and adoptive families in Missouri will soon have extra financial support from the state.
Gov. Mike Parson signed a pair of bills into law Thursday at the Capitol surrounded by families. The legislation creates a tax deduction for foster parents and gives a tax credit for adoption expenses for any parent. At present, the adoption tax credit is only for children with special needs.
“Today is about 13,917 children that are in the foster care system,” Rep. Hannah Kelly (R-Mountain Grove) said. “And today is about the families and the hearts that are ready and waiting to give them love and security and permanency.”
Kelly sponsored both House Bill 429 and 430. She herself is an adoptive parent and former foster parent.
HB 429 will allow those who are foster parents for up to six months to receive a tax deduction to cover the cost of the process. It is capped at $2,500 per person or $5,000 for married couples. Kelly’s other bill, HB 430 offers a $10,000 tax credit for non-recurring adoption feeds and expenses. Both bills go into effect in 2022.
“Every child deserves a family to provide, love, support and a strong foundation,” Parson said. “Missouri has to do a better job of making sure we provide homes for children.”
Parson told the crowd how adoption has changed his family after his son and daughter-in-law adopted a little girl over a year ago.
“For me and Teresa on the personal side, to be able to have that experience of a little girl that you don’t know where she would have ended up today if it hadn’t been for her to be able to come to our family,” Parson said.
Missouri Speaker of the House Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) was adopted out of the foster care system and made the system and adoption one of his top priorities.
“As an adoptive child, as someone who’s been our foster care system, this is a great day for me,” Vescovo said.
Sen. Andrew Koenig carried the bills in the Senate. He and his wife have also fostered and adopted kids.
“It’s so important that kids get a permanent home,” Koenig said. “We’ve had over a dozen kids in foster care, we’ve adopted kids and my wife was an orphan at the age of three, so she was a ward of the state for 17 years.”
HB 430 also creates a Birth Match Program which notifies the Department of Social Services and the State Registrar when a child is born to a parent that has been convicted of certain crimes or lost parental rights previously. The legislation also expands tax credits for domestic violence shelter and maternity homes.