Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday signed into law three measures to help foster children and their parents and to support youth residential care providers.
The event was held at in Webster Groves. Among the attendees were State Rep. Jeanne Kirkton (D-Webster Groves), State Rep. Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), Mayor Gerry Welch, Superintendent Sarah Riss and leaders from Epworth and Missouri Baptist Children's Home and other foster and youth care programs.
Here are the bills that were signed into law:
- House Bill 1172 — extends and expands a tax credit program for agencies that provide residential care and treatment for youth and families, and establishes a tax credit program for donations to developmental disability care providers. "That tax credit program was set to expire this year, and this bill extends the credit another three years," Nixon said.
- House Bill 1576 — allows certain specialized state-licensed foster parents to purchase the same state health insurance as state employees. "There are foster parents who have special needs children and who are licensed to care for their children, and it's literally a full time job," Nixon said. "We want then to be able to purchase the same health coverage as our state employees have."
- House Bill 1577 provides criteria for schools districts to increase the academic success of foster care children. "A lot of times, these kids move and change school districts and what counted for graduation credit in one school may not in another, and that sets the kids back," Nixon said.
Amy Berg, Epworth's board chairwoman, called the passage of the bills "huge" for foster families, their children and organizations that that provide residential youth care.
"It's an awesome win for all involved, and the bills were passed unanimously on a bipartisan basis," she said.
The bills go into effect Aug. 28.