Adoption subsidies

Monday, June 20, 2005

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Parents of about 5,800 adopted children in Missouri are getting bad news: State adoption subsidies on which many families depend to make ends meet will stop.

Gov. Matt Blunt initiated the cuts. He came to office promising not to raise taxes under any circumstances and looking at a deficit. So he whacked the subsidies -- about $12 million a year -- to balance the budget.

Given the choice between keeping his promise to voters or sparing thousands of Missouri children from the suffering those cuts will cause, Mr. Blunt turned his back on the children.

Is that really what Missouri taxpayers want? The state estimates that the parents of more than 2,000 children will lose their subsidies, typically about $225 a month. But the number of families affected could be higher because the state budget approved by the Legislature is still $26.4 million out of balance. That means the governor will have to make additional cuts.

Families often stretch their budgets to the breaking point in order to adopt children out of the state foster care system, and save the state money by doing so. The state's cost of caring for children in foster care is considerably higher than $225 a month.

In a perfect world, there wouldn't be one abused or neglected child. But the world we live in is far from perfect. The 13,000 Missouri children in foster care need love and support -- and shoes, books, food and all the necessities $225 a month buys. We should be supporting parents who make room in their homes and their hearts for children who need loving, financially stable families. Cutting adoption subsidies is no way to do it.

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