Oklahoma’s more than 4,100 foster families will soon get some financial relief following the signing of Senate Bill 893 Tuesday. Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, and Rep. Rande Worthen, R-Lawton, authored the bill, which will provide a $5,000 income tax exemption for anyone contracting with a child-placing agency for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2019.
“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,” Scott said. “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.”
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.
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.
“Foster families make sacrifices within their own households to care for children who have been abused and neglected. DHS and the State of Oklahoma are continually developing ways to better support our foster families as we recruit more to this critical role,” said DHS Director Ed Lake. “We greatly appreciate Sen. Scott’s legislation, which will financially benefit current foster families and also help our ongoing foster care recruitment efforts.”
SB 893 will go into effect November 1, 2019.