A House Committee has voted to make adopting or fostering children in Missouri easier, with its support for two bills that are early-session priorities for chamber leadership.
The House Committee on Children and Families unanimously passed House Bill 429, which would authorize an income tax deduction for foster care expenses; and House Bill 430 which would expand the state’s existing $10,000 tax credit for the adoption of children with special needs to any adoption.
“Because of Speaker Vescovo’s leadership we are looking at sending this thing to the House floor, sending it to the Senate right away, and it’s just awesome,” said Kelly. “Today doesn’t have anything to do with Hannah Kelly, it has to do with Speaker Vescovo’s leadership and people who have gone on before me and plowed the ground.”
The proposed tax deduction for foster care would begin January 1 and continue for six years unless extended by the legislature. Parents who foster children for at least six months would be eligible for a deduction of up to $2,500, or $5,000 for a couple filing jointly.
Those who foster for fewer than six months could apply for a prorated deduction. Kelly said extending help to those foster parents is no less important.
“Sometimes children need a safe place for just a few weeks while mom and dad get a house cleaned, or while they take certain trainings, or perhaps they simply need a temporary place to stay while they find a permanent placement, and so this also allows to be supportive to the foster parents who provide that respite care, that temporary place,” said Kelly.
Kelly said anything that makes it easier for a child in foster care to be adopted isn’t just good for that child, it makes financial sense for the state.
In the case of her own daughter, who she adopted last year at the age of 18, “If she would have stayed in the system she would have stayed there until she was 21 … from a financial standpoint … the state would’ve spent $21,000 just as a base amount, before she aged out of the system.”
Vescovo, who was adopted out of foster care, called on House members last week to join him in expanding the adoption tax credit.
He also asked for members’ support for foster care reforms, including a tax deduction, “which can encourage more Missouri families to open their doors and their hearts to our young people in need.”
“We know we have more than 13,000 kids in the foster care system and more enter the system every year. We must take every step possible to give each and every one of these kids an open door of opportunity so they can grow into healthy, productive adults,” said Vescovo.
With the committee’s action today, those bills will go before another committee and could be heard by the full House next week.