Apr. 7—The Missouri House of Representatives has earned a round of applause, having recently approved a $76 million increase for foster children and for adoptions.
"It's a pretty significant jump," Craig Stevenson told us. He is director of Policy & Advocacy for the nonprofit Kids Win Missouri.
According to the group, this represents "unprecedented support" for kinship and foster families. The House also provided additional funding for guardianship and adoption subsidies.
Stevenson told us there are 14,000 children in foster care in Missouri, many coming from homes where addiction is a problem.
"Foster parenting is a calling, and we are grateful for the commitment of the House of Representatives in providing additional support for those caring for children," Stevenson said in a statement.
House Speaker Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, who was himself adopted out of foster care as a child, said it is a legislative 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. We hope this effort will help inspire prospective parents to take part in supporting kids so we can better serve the more than 2,500 Missouri children currently awaiting an adoptive home."
—Increases monthly maintenance rates for parents starting at a 10% increase for infants through those children age 12, and a 25% increase for children ages 13 and older.
—Increases clothing allowances for children in foster care by between 28% and 45%, depending on the age.
—Increases adoption subsidy rates between 36% and 52%, depending on the age of the child.
—Includes additional funding for emergency foster care rates, respite provider rates, children with greater medical needs and also includes an additional 3% pay increase for field staff.
If the additional support makes it through the Senate and the budget gets the governor's nod, families supporting and adopting children could see the increases this summer.
House Budget Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, said: "Helping to ensure our most vulnerable children have a safe and supportive home, while working towards permanency, is an investment in our state's future."
We agree wholeheartedly, applaud the House for facing this challenge and making this happen, and urge the Senate and the governor to give it their support as well.