New Missouri laws aimed to help foster children and improve adoption policies

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – Governor Mike Parson just signed two bills into law relating to foster families and adoption.

HB 429 relates to Child Placement. The bill allows the Missouri Children’s Division or a juvenile officer to seek termination of parental rights when a child has been abandoned. For children under two years old, it is if they have been abandoned for 60 days, and for children over two years old it is 6 months.

“It then allows the process to actually file the termination of parental rights based on abandonment. You could in that intervening time, if there were other things that happened in the family, you could file the termination based on abuse or neglect or something like that, abandonment is a cause for termination also,” said Missouri Senator Bill White.

That reduces the time it takes and prevents children from getting stuck in foster care.

“It also allows the juvenile office or the children’s division to if you’ve been in foster care for 15 or 22 months.  It doesn’t mean they’re going to but it gives them the option to do that to where they can file for termination of parental rights. which then frees up the child if you will, makes it easier for an adoptive parent to start that adoptive proceeding,” Sen. White said.

He added that it ensures the children will be placed in a safe home.

“Once you’ve determined that the reunification is not going to be accomplished because the original goal would be that the natural birth parent or parents can have the training, the education necessary,  that you’d reunite the family with services and get to where they’re a functional family again. When that becomes not possible, you want to be able to place the child in a permanent home…When the children’s division and juvenile court decide there’s not going to be a reunification, it lets them move on and get the child into a new life where they have stability, a loving permanent home.”

HB 429 also includes a “birth match” which allows records to be shared with the children’s division, so if a parent has already had to have a child removed from their custody, the department will be alerted should they expect another child,  and see if services need to be offered to help them raise this child successfully.

“It allows vital records and the department of children to share records so if a child is born to parents who have already had their parental rights terminated for certain criminal type felonies, child abuse, records are shared so the department can look at it and see what services if any are necessary to be offered to ensure that child doesn’t go the way of the predecessors,” White said.

HB 430 relates to tax credits. This extends tax credits to Domestic violence centers and maternity homes.

Sen. White said this helps entities like domestic violence centers and maternity homes, which are very important for children’s protection, gain the support they may need.

“The institutions survive by people doing donations, and what we allow them to encourage the population to support those entities is a tax credit. ”