Unless the Missouri state Senate balks, families that adopt children, foster them or care for relatives’ children will have more money from the state, come July 1, to help make ends meet.
The House last week gave final approval to a $34.6 billion series of state budget bills, including a $76 million increase in total payments to such families for basic maintenance, including clothing and diapers.
The House-passed budget also seeks to encourage adoption from foster care by increasing other subsidies for guardians and adoptive families.
The budget now goes to the Senate, which could change it and send its version back to the House. That would require both chambers to work out their differences.
The Republican-controlled House did not include money to expand Medicaid even though the voters approved a ballot initiative last fall that would provide health care to 275,000 low income residents. The Republican governor, Mike Parson, in an effort to carry out voters’ wishes, asked for the Medicaid expansion money in his proposed budget even though he didn’t personally support it.
Craig Stevenson, director of policy and advocacy for Kids Win Missouri, said he was grateful that the House backed more money to support adoptive, foster and kinship parents. “It … keeps children at the center by providing a 45% increase to the clothing allowance for teenagers who outgrow and wear out clothing at fast rates,” Stevenson said.
Republican Speaker Rob Vescovo said he hoped the additional money would inspire more prospective parents to open their hearts to the 2,500 young Missourians awaiting adoption.
“The House has made it a top priority to ensure every child has a stable, nurturing environment, and these additional funds represent a much-needed investment in the many families who are willing to open their homes to young people in need,” Vescovo said.
The House spending blueprint hikes monthly maintenance rates for resource parents starting at a 10% increase for infants through 12-year-olds, according to the Hermann (Missouri) Advertiser Courier. Those with youth aged 13 and older would be in line for a 25% increase. The monthly clothing allowance for children in foster care would jump between 28% and 45% depending on the age, while adoption subsidy rates would jump as much as 52%. Rates for emergency foster care, respite providers and children with more medical needs would also increase. Field staff would receive a 3% pay raise.