Sweeping new adoption and foster bills will help kids find forever homes after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday signed them into law.
HB 429 will allow Missourians who serve as foster parents for at least six months to receive a tax deduction to cover the cost of the process, capped at $2,500 per taxpayer or $5,000 for married couples.
HB 430 will offer a $10,000 tax credit to anyone facing non-recurring adoption fees and expenses. Priority will be given to applicants adopting children with special needs under the bill. Both changes will take effect at the beginning of next year.
Both bills found widespread bi-partisan support and was a unique opportunity for Democrats to work with Republicans.
“Every child deserves a family to provide love, support and a strong foundation,” Parson said. “Missourians who take on this role as foster and adoptive parents are invaluable to the children of our state, and I am extremely pleased to sign these bills today.”
“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 shared with those gathered 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.
Parson held the ceremonial bill signing with sponsor Rep. Hannah Kelly, Senate handler Sen. Andrew Koenig and Speaker Rob Vescovo. Several children gathered around the chief executive to sign ceremonial copies of the legislation.
“Today is about 13,970 children that are in the foster care system, and today is about the families whose hearts are ready and waiting to give them security and permanency,” Kelly said. “We’re going to be able to say we helped do that long after we’re gone and these kids are leading the future of this great state.”
Vescovo, who was adopted out of foster care as a child, listed the state’s adoption and foster care systems as a priority of his tenure in office. Parson also signed Sen. Dan Hegeman’s SB 2, which alters the Missouri Works program, before the ceremony.
“I was blessed to have loving parents who adopted me out of the foster care system and gave me a stable nurturing home. I want to see every child in Missouri have similar opportunities,” Vescovo said.
Russel Martin, President of Missouri Baptist Children’s previously stated the bills were good for kids.
“Our God, the Creator, established the family as the basic building block of society, and we are only as strong as our families,” Martin said, commending the bills. “Anything we can do to strengthen them … serves us all well.”
Martin previously told The Pathway that the bills will “assist in making it easier for foster parents by providing them some tax relief for the expenses that are incurred by them as they provide foster care. These children more often than not have unique circumstances and needs that require additional time and money on the part of those providing foster care.”
Statistics from the Missouri Department of Social Services at the end of 2020 show there were 13,808 children in foster care in Missouri with 2,529 children awaiting adoption.
“Anything we can do to assist those who take on the tremendous task of foster parenting and to expedite these children reaching permanency not only provides family for these children, but also contributes to a stronger society,” Martin stated.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice