Missouri’s most vulnerable children will have additional protections and better opportunities for happy, healthy lives thanks to legislation sponsored by state Rep. Sheila Solon and approved by the Missouri General Assembly. The bill, HB 1414, was signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson on Monday, July 13.

Missouri State Representative Sheila Solon

The legislation, which will reform Missouri’s foster care system and provide additional help to homeless children, received overwhelming bipartisan support during the abbreviated 2020 legislative session.

“Even in a pandemic-shortened legislative session, the legislature prioritized our most vulnerable children by passing this sweeping child protection bill,” said Solon, R-St. Joseph. “This bill improves transparency, modernizes, and expands best practices to ensure that the foster care system remains focused on the best interests of each child.”

Craig Stevenson, Director of Policy & Advocacy for Kids Win Missouri, said, “The passage of this bill is the work of passionate policymakers and it will positively impact children of all ages. We are grateful for the partnership of the legislature and thank Governor Parson for signing this important legislation.”

HB 1414 included key provisions to protect children throughout Missouri. It will homeless youth have access to a birth certificate for free, have access to health coverage through Medicaid, and can seek mental health care. The bill also clarifies that a child’s attendance in court hearings should only take place when the judge and family support believe it’s in the best interest of the child.

The legislation makes substantive changes to the state’s system of foster care. It creates temporary alternative placement agreements, a mechanism to provide services to parents and family placement to ensure safety of children not brought into foster care. The bill also ensures timely risk assessments within 72 hours of child abuse and neglect reports. Additionally, it ensures foster parents have access, at the time of placement, to full medical records of a child placed with them

The bill also fixes a background check duplication issue for child care providers and allows for non-expiring child care licenses.

With the governor’s signature, the bill is now set to become law on August 28.