Governor Tate Reeves made a couple of moves on Wednesday that provide millions of dollars for foster children in Mississippi to pursue postsecondary education.
Firstly, the Republican governor signed House Bill 1313, creating the “State Representative Bill Kinkade Fostering Access and Inspiring True Hope (of Faith) Scholarship Program.”
The legislation provides one million dollars in scholarship money that can go to any person who was placed in either the legal custody of the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services (MDCPS) or in any of the state’s qualified residential child agencies after the age of 13.
“There are still too many Mississippi kids who need a loving family and a forever home, especially older teens who remain in foster care. We’ll continue to do everything we can to support children in foster care, find them loving homes, and give them the opportunity to succeed,” Reeves said. “We have a responsibility to ensure those children growing up in foster care have the opportunity to turn their struggles into strengths.”
The Mississippi Postsecondary Education Financial Assistance Board will be in charge of administering the scholarship program.
Secondly, Reeves announced the expansion of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, which focuses on finding adoptive homes for children within the Mississippi foster care system.
The foundation, originally founded by the fast-food tycoon Dave Thomas, is set to provide $1.7 million as well as their training program to the MDCPS. The partnership will fund 10 experienced adoption professionals to serve children who are at risk of foster care without a family.
“When the Foundation approached the state of Mississippi about scaling Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, they were eager to learn more,” Rita Soronen, President & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, said. “Mississippi is a key part of our strategy to expand nationally. We are thrilled when these partnerships come together because it means more families for youth who have been lingering in foster care the longest.”
Since its founding in 1992, the vision of the Dave Thomas Foundation has been for every child to have a permanent home and loving family. To date, the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program has found adoptive homes for more than 12,000 children across the United States, including 125 youth right here in Mississippi.
To watch Reeves sign HB 1313, as well as make the announcement regarding the Dave Thomas Foundation, check out the video below.