When he lays out his agenda for the 2021 legislative session, improving Missouri’s foster care system will be among House Speaker Rob Vescovo’s top priorities.
And for Vescovo, who is kicking off his first year as speaker, this issue is deeply personal.
“I spent the first 15 months of my life in foster care,” Vescovo, R-Arnold, said in an interview with The Independent. “My sisters were adopted. My brothers were adopted. We were all adopted out of foster care. There are 14,000 children in foster care in this state, and I think we should do everything we can to give these children the opportunities that I had.”
A wide range of bills have already been filed aimed at foster care and adoption.
Democratic Rep. Keri Ingle of Lee’s Summit has proposed a pair of bills outlawing discrimination against perspective foster families based on sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. Republican Rep. Ron Hicks of St. Charles County is pushing to ensure those who have a medical marijuana card aren’t prevented from adopting a child.
Republican Rep. Chris Dinkins of Annapolis is sponsoring a bill that would require foster care cases be given priority over criminal cases on a court docket. And legislation from Democratic Rep. Raychel Proudie of Kinloch would cap out-of-pocket legal expenses for adopting a child at $1,000.
But when Vescovo discusses his top priorities, he specifically points to two bills sponsored by Republican Rep. Hannah Kelly of Mountain Grove…