Missouri waives birth certificate fees for foster care kids

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JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The state no longer will make children in foster care pay a $15 fee to get copies of their birth certificates, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said. 

Greitens said in a statement Friday the change is aimed at making it easier for teenagers in foster care to get records needed to apply for a driver's license and jobs.

DeAnna Alonso, the CEO of the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association, said the decision is a monumental change for youth in foster care.

A challenge in the organization's transition program, which helps graduating seniors pursue a post-secondary education, has been helping children in foster care navigate the financial barriers in getting their driver's licenses and first jobs, Alonso said.

"Without their birth certificate, it's nearly impossible unless somebody comes in and sponsors them," Alonso said. "So this is going to really help them to be able to meet the challenges of successful transition into life." 

She said the change will help children in foster care be able to get their first jobs, driver's licenses, insurance and sign a lease.

"I have no doubt kids will be lining up at the DMVs," Alonso said.  

First Lady Sheena Greitens suggested the change after youth in foster care complained to her about fees. She said the change will lower barriers for kids in foster care and help them develop life skills.

Alonso said the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association would open its doors and help youth in foster care obtain their birth certificates with the change.

The new governor and first lady have said helping foster care children is a priority for them.

Greitens' spokesman Parker Briden said costs to the state will be minimal but didn't provide an estimated price tag.

(Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the latest information.)