JEFFERSON CITY – Two new Missouri laws signed by Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday support Missouri adoptive families and children in foster care.
“Every child deserves a family to provide love, support and a strong foundation,” Parson said. “Missourians who take on this role as foster and adoptive parents are invaluable to the children of our state, and I am extremely pleased to sign these bills today.”
Parson said the new laws would improve the adoption process “and most importantly help foster children reach the permanency they deserve.”
Parson’s office explained in a statement that one law sets out a clearer path to permanency for foster children by clarifying what constitutes an abandoned child, establishing a definite timeline for courts in certain circumstances, and removing barriers for adoptive families in consent adoption cases. Specifically, the legislation allows the Children’s Division or juvenile officer to seek termination of parental rights when a child younger than 2 has been abandoned for 60 days or a child over 2 has been abandoned for six months.
Termination of parental rights may also be sought when a child has been in foster care for 15 of 22 months, which will allow courts to move cases along more quickly and prevent children from getting stuck in foster care. Prospective adoptive parents won’t have to pay the legal fees of a birth parent in consent adoption proceedings, although the court can still appoint an attorney to the birth parent.
Both new laws make the adoption process more accessible. The adoption tax credit will cover adoption of any child. Also, tax credits for maternity homes are extended, and donors to rape crisis centers as well as other shelters can get a tax credit.
Parson also signed into law a bill that allows part-time jobs to qualify for Missouri Works Military Project benefits.