The Missouri House of Representatives unanimously passed two bills on Jan. 27 that would increase financial support for foster and adoptive parents. Now, they await approval by the Senate.
House Bill 429 would provide a tax deduction for foster parents — $2,500 for a single parent, $5,000 for a married couple — who have been caretaking for at least six months. House Bill 430 expands the eligibility criteria for an existing $10,000 tax credit currently available for adoptive parents of special needs children. If passed, all adoptions would qualify. Rep. Brenda Shields added an amendment to the bill that would further expand qualifying adoptions to include adoptees older than 18 who are unable to care for themselves.
Both bills were introduced by Rep. Hannah Kelly (R). After first learning about the foster care system by reading a related bill early in her legislative career, she went on to adopt one daughter and foster 11 children.
“If you’ve been a foster parent, or know someone serving as a foster parent, you know that the reality of a foster parent is you get babies dropped at your doorstep, and you need a baby bed, and you need a nursery, and you need diapers,” Kelly said. “And sometimes as a foster parent, you know what it means to need to immediately find a bigger car so that everybody can safely have a seat on the way to school or on the way to the doctor’s appointment.”
According to Kelly, the state’s pre-existing adoption tax credit has been underutilized. In 2020, less than $30,000 worth of tax credits were claimed out of a $2 million allocation.
House Speaker Rob Vescovo (R), who was adopted from foster care at a young age, was a vocal supporter of the bills and, in a speech on the first day of the House’s session, listed foster and adoption reform as two of his priorities.
“I want to thank my colleagues for giving their overwhelming bipartisan support to these pieces of legislation that can help offset a portion of the significant cost associated with fostering and adopting vulnerable young people,” Vescovo said. “This is a change that can and will encourage more families to open their homes to kids who need and deserve a stable, nurturing environment. As someone who was given a better life by my adoptive parents, I want to see all children have these same opportunities to grow into healthy, productive adults.”
If passed by the Senate, both bills could go into effect as early as next year. The Senate will also vote on a separate bill that the House has passed to increase family supports by $76 million.