OKLAHOMA CITY – With 8,000 children in state custody as of March 1, the Department of Human Services (DHS) is always in need of more foster homes to meet the needs of the children in their care. Sen. Paul Scott realizes the important role foster parents play in protecting children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. He authored Senate Bill 893 to assist foster parents, as well as incentivize more individuals to volunteer to help Oklahoma’s children and their biological families.
“There are thousands of children in Oklahoma’s foster care system, but sadly we don’t have enough foster families to help them all,” said Scott, R-Duncan. “Being a foster parent and opening one’s home to a stranger is one of the most selfless, admirable acts. Providing this income tax exemption is a small way we can thank them for their service in helping protect Oklahoma’s children and lessen their financial burden. Hopefully, it will also attract more foster parents as we need more safe, temporary homes to meet each child’s individual needs.”
SB 893 reinstates the $5,000 income tax exemption for a taxpayer who contracts with a child-placing agency for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2019. 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’ goal is to have a total of 907 new approved foster homes by the end of the current fiscal year. The agency had recruited nearly 300 by the end of November. Of particular need are families who are willing to accept large sibling groups, children with mental health or other special medical needs, and teenagers.
The measure, which passed the Senate unanimously Monday evening, now goes to the House for further consideration.