SS/SB 327 - This act modifies several provisions relating to child placement, including: (1) adoption tax credits; (2) foster parent tax deductions; (3) birth match; (4) termination of parental rights; (5) third party custody or visitation; (6) adoption regulations; and (7) adoption proceedings.
ADOPTION TAX CREDITS (Sections 135.325, 135.326, 135.327, 135.335, 135.800, and 191.975)
Current law authorizes the Special Needs Adoption Tax Credit for nonrecurring expenses relating to the adoption of a special needs child. This act modifies such program by renaming it the Adoption Tax Credit, and by expanding such program to allow tax credits for nonrecurring expenses relating to the adoption of any child adopted on or after January 1, 2022, regardless of whether such child is a special needs child. Beginning July 1, 2021, the cap for the tax credit shall be expanded from two million dollars to five million dollars.
These provisions are substantially similar to provisions in SCS/HCS/HB 429 (2021) and SCS/ HCS/HB 430 (2021).
FOSTER PARENT TAX DEDUCTIONS (Section 143.1170)
For all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2022, this act authorizes a tax deduction for expenses incurred directly by a taxpayer in providing care as a foster parent to one or more children in this state. The amount of such deduction for a taxpayer providing care as a foster parent for at least six months during the tax year shall not exceed $5,000, provided that a deduction claimed under this provision if filing married separately shall not exceed $2,500 per taxpayer. For a taxpayer providing care for less than six months during the tax year, the amount of the deduction shall be reduced on a pro rata basis.
A taxpayer claiming a deduction pursuant to this act shall file an affidavit affirming that such taxpayer is a foster parent, and the Department of Revenue shall collaborate with the Children's Division of the Department of Social Services to establish and implement a procedure to verify that a taxpayer is a foster parent.
This provision is identical to a provision in SCS/HCS/HB 429 (2021).
BIRTH MATCH (Sections 193.075, 210.150, and 210.156)
Under this act, the Children's Division shall make available to the State Registrar the identifying information of certain individuals, within the previous ten years, whose parental rights have been terminated due to child abuse or neglect, individuals who pled or were found guilty of murder or manslaughter when the victim was a child, and individuals who pled guilty or were found guilty of certain sexual offenses against a child. The State Registrar shall provide to the Division the birth record information of children born to such individuals. The Division shall verify the identity of the parent and if that identity is verified, the Division shall provide the appropriate local office with information regarding the birth of the child. Appropriate local Division personnel, or local providers designated by the Division, shall initiate contact with the family, or make a good faith effort to do so, to determine if the parent or family has a need for services and provide such voluntary and time-limited services as appropriate. The Division shall document the results of such contact and services provided, if any, in the Division's information system. Identifying information and records created and exchanged under this act shall be closed records and shall only be used as specified in the act.
These provisions are substantially similar to SB 454 (2021) and HB 432 (2021) and similar to HB 2329 (2020), provisions in HB 2216 (2020), and SB 503 (2019).
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS (Section 211.447)
This act modifies the definition of and the grounds for determining abandonment of child in a termination of parental rights proceeding. Under this act, a mandatory termination of parental rights shall be initiated when the court finds a child under two years of age to be abandoned, including when a parent has, for a period of sixty days when the child was under one year of age, willfully, substantially, and continuously neglected to provide the child with necessary care and protection. A discretionary termination of parental rights may occur when the court finds a child two years of age or older has been abandoned, including when a parent has, for a period of 6 months immediately prior to the filing of the petition to terminate parental rights, willfully, substantially, and continuously neglected to provide the child with necessary care and protection. This act repeals a ground for a discretionary termination of parental rights when a child two years of age or older has been abandoned if the parent, without good cause, left the child without any provision for parental support and without making arrangements to visit or communicate with the child.
Under current law, a termination of parental rights shall occur if the parent has been found guilty of certain felony offenses when the child or any child in the family was a victim. This act adds additional felony offenses to the list and removes the requirement that the child be a child in the family or that the child reside with the parent at the time of the offense.
This act modifies determinations of parental unfitness in a discretionary termination of parental rights proceedings to include circumstances when the child has been in foster care under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for at least 15 of the 22 months prior to the filing of the petition.
This provision is substantially similar to a provision in SCS/HCS/HB 429 (2021) and SB 888 (2020).
THIRD PARTY CUSTODY OR VISITATION (Section 452.375)
Under this act, temporary third party custody or visitation may be awarded, if in the best interests of the child, to a person related by consanguinity or affinity to the child. If no such person is willing to accept custody of the child, then the court may award custody to any other person deemed by the court to be suitable.
ADOPTION REGULATIONS (Sections 453.014, 453.030, and 453.070)
This act modifies provisions granting, under current law, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Health and Senior Services regulatory authority for placing a child for adoption to instead grant such authority to the Children's Division and to repeal such authority from the Department of Health and Senior Services.
These provisions are identical to provisions in SCS/HCS/HB 429 (2021) and substantially similar to SB 888 (2020).
ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS (Sections 453.030 and 453.040)
Under current law, prospective adoptive parents or the child-placing agency shall pay reasonable attorney fees incurred by the birth parent throughout the adoption process, unless the court determines the adoptive parents are unable to pay such fees. This act repeals this provision, while retaining the provision guaranteeing the birth parent the right to legal representation. Additionally, this act permits the court to appoint an attorney to represent a birth parent under the age of 18 in cases where the birth parent requests an attorney, the hiring of an attorney would represent a financial hardship for the birth parent, and the birth parent is not already represented by counsel.
Finally, this act modifies the circumstances in which a parent's consent to adoption is not required to reflect the changes made to identifying "abandoned" children in termination of parental rights proceedings.
These provisions are substantially similar to provisions in SCS/HCS/HB 429 (2021) and SB 888 (2020).