WEBSTER GROVES - Gov. Jay Nixon signed three bills Monday to support foster care parents and children, and to help support agencies that provide residential care and treatment for Missouri youth. The Governor signed House Bills 1172, 1576 and 1577 at Epworth Children and Family Services in Webster Groves.
House Bill 1172 will extend and expand a program allowing tax credits for residential treatment agencies and also establish a tax credit program for those who donate to such facilities.
"Tax credit programs are instrumental in helping agencies be as successful as they are and hopefully continue to be successful in developing new avenues of funding with donors," Coyote Hill Site Director Bill Atherton said.
Atherton said funding is also essential for giving Coyote Hill's children the best opportunities.
"Most of the time before they come here, kids have just been trying to survive the day," Atherton said. "We want to help them create dreams for what their future might be five, ten, 20 years out as a parent, as an adult and as a member of society."
The other two bills provide help to foster care situations. House Bill 1576 allows various specialized state-licensed foster care parents to purchase the same state health insurance as state employees. House Bill 1577 provides criteria for school districts to help foster care children succeed academically.
"It's wonderful that Gov. Nixon realizes what these people sacrifice when they take a child into their home and support them as a foster child," Boys and Girls Town of Missouri Director of Advancement Julie Dorn said. "Kids also will not be punished, so to say, for being in a foster home."
Dorn said many foster care children have to switch from school to school as they do the same with homes. Before HB 1577, many class credits would not transfer from school to school so students would have to go back a semester or year in school. Now all of the credits will transfer from school to school so students can maintain the same level of schooling.
The bills will go into effect Aug. 28, 2012.