The month of May marks National Foster Care Month, and according to a May 1 news report, “Oklahoma’s more than 4,100 foster families will soon get some financial relief following the signing of (Oklahoma) Senate Bill 893.”
SB 893 provides “a $5,000 income tax exemption for anyone contracting with a child-placing agency for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2019,” and “in order to qualify for the exemption, the taxpayer must have been under contract and providing care for at least six months or claim a pro rata exemption based on the difference.”
The bill, which was signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, was authored by Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, and Rep. Rande Worthen, R-Lawton.
Sen. Scott, a Southern Baptist, said, “There are nearly 8,000 children in state custody who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. No child should ever have to go through this but fortunately Oklahoma has families who selflessly open their hearts and homes to help these kids and their biological families. DHS is always in need of more foster homes to meet the needs of the children in their care. This exemption will provide foster families with some financial relief as well as hopefully help recruit many more great families.”
Oklahoma Baptist Messenger editor Brian Hobbs, who serves as the liaison for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee of Oklahoma said, “With thousands of Oklahoma children still in DHS custody, the foster care needs in our state are great. This bill is a cause to rejoice and a reminder for Christians to step up and meet the foster care need in our state with the love of Jesus Christ.”
SB 893 will take effect Nov. 1, 2019. Sources said “DHS hopes to have recruited another 400 foster families by the end of June to hit their annual goal of 900 new, approved foster homes. They specifically are needing families who will take in teenagers, large sibling groups, and children with mental health issues or other special medical needs. Of the 8,000 children in foster care, around 500 are also legally free and waiting to be adopted.”
To find out more about how to help in foster care through Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children’s One Such Child foster care program, visit https://www.obhc.org/services/foster-care.