Lawmakers are considering a bill from Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, that prevents the state from using federal benefits granted to a child. She tells Missourinet that the Missouri Children’s Division would be required to check if a foster child is receiving those benefits within 60 days of being placed into custody.

“I’ve never seen a bill perfectly fix anything,” she said. “The facts are we need to work together to make sure that we are administrating the process around the care and welfare of those within the foster system right and well to where they can get onto a permanency. Again, whether that’s biological, or foster, or adoptive. They need to get to a permanent place in life.”

These benefits are administered by the Railroad Retirement Board, the Social Security Administration, or the Veterans Administration, and they may be used for the child’s unmet needs.

“It would empower the families and it’s reflected off of a federal credit that currently exists,” Kelly said. “It basically creates a state credit that is a general reflection of what is a federal credit for childcare.”

No one testified against the bill; however, Sharie Hahn with the Department of Social Services clarifies that there are certain expenses under state statute that the money can be used for.

Jason White, a foster parent who supports Kelly’s bill, calls out the state for “pocketing” the money, rather than putting it into an account.

“The department doesn’t track this money,” he said. “In your state law, it says in 210.560 #7 each child has benefit funds that have been received by the division in the guardian ad litem shall be furnished annually with the state listing all transactions. (It) never happened.”

The bill could pass out of committee soon.

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