JEFFERSON CITY – Two bills recently approved by the committee on children and families in the Missouri House of Representatives should help foster parents and encourage adoptions in the state, according to Missouri Baptist Children’s Home President (MBCH) Russell Martin.
“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.”
Committee members approved House Bill 429 and House Bill 430, Jan. 12. House Speaker Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, is giving the bills priority, saying they’ll be the first bills out of the House this session.
“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.
HB 429 authorizes a $2,500 income tax deduction for an individual, or a $5,000 deduction for a married couple, if they provide foster care for a child for at least six months. HB 430 expands Missouri’s existing $10,000 tax credit to any adoption. Previously, it applied only to those adopting special needs children. The bills, however, continue to prioritize special needs adoptions, a press release from the Capitol stated. If passed, both proposals go into effect at the beginning of 2022.
The MBCH’s Martin told The Pathway that, if passed, HB 429 “should 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.”
Meanwhile, HB 430 “would expand the availability of tax credits to any adoption and not be limited to those who adopt special needs children,” Martin said.
“The latest statistics from the Missouri Department of Social Services show that as of December 2020 there were 13,808 children in foster care in Missouri with 2,529 children awaiting adoption,” he added. “Again, 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.”
During 2020, Martin added, the MBCH facilitated 135 children reaching permanency. Of these, 44 were adopted. At the end of 2020, the MBCH was maintaining 185 foster/adoptive homes and 147 relative homes.
Rep. Hannah Kelly (R-Mountain Grove) sponsored both bills.