A coalition that’s dedicated to improving the well-being of Missouri children is praising the Missouri House’s bipartisan approval of a $76 million increase for foster and adoptive children.

Missouri House Speaker Rob Vescovo (right) and House Budget Committee chairman Cody Smith (R-Carthage) listen to budget debate in the chamber on March 30, 2021 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Kids Win Missouri policy director Craig Stevenson says the House budget provides unprecedented support for the kinship and foster families who care for the thousands of children in Missouri foster care. The state Department of Social Services (DSS) says there are currently 13,917 foster care children in Missouri.

“It increases everything from the maintenance, the monthly maintenance payments that foster guardian and adoptive parents get. But then also increases important things like the diaper allowance for people who are caring for infants,” Stevenson says.

The House budget increases the infant care enhancement from $50 to $80 per month. There is a $44 per month foster care monthly maintenance increase for foster children ages 0-5, and $47 per month for ages 6-12. It’s $127 per month increase for foster teens.

Mr. Stevenson also notes the House budget includes a 45 percent increase to the clothing allowance for foster teens.

“We all know that it takes a lot of resources to clothe and keep our growing kids in appropriate clothing,” says Stevenson.

The House budget increases the clothing allowance for foster teens by $220 annually, up from the current $480. It also increases the clothing allowance for Missouri foster children ages 6-12 by $110 annually, up from the current $290.

Stevenson is thankful to House Speaker Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) and to House members in both parties for their support, saying it represents a much-needed investment.

“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 says.

Kids Win Missouri’s website says its mission is “to further child well-being by advancing the health, education, safety and development of Missouri children and their families, especially those who are at-risk because of poverty, abuse, neglect, racial inequities or other risk factors.”

Vescovo, who was elected House Speaker in January, focused on early childhood education and adoption during his opening day address. He called on state lawmakers that day to expand Missouri’s adoption tax credit, so that families who want to adopt a child aren’t blocked from doing it simply because of cost.

Speaker Vescovo was adopted.

The Missouri House approved a $34.1 billion state operating budget last week. That budget now heads to the Missouri Senate. The state Constitution requires Missouri lawmakers to approve a balanced budget by early May.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with Kids Win Missouri policy director Craig Stevenson, which was recorded on April 2, 2021:

Copyright © 2021 · Missourinet