Governor Tate Reeves has signed numerous pieces of legislation that focus on Mississippi’s adoption and foster care systems, as well as pregnancy resource centers throughout the state.
Reeves signed House Bill 510, HB 1671, and Senate Bill 2696 during a press conference on Wednesday morning, later announcing that he had given his approval of HB 1625, HB 1318, SB 2384, and HB 1149 before the meeting.
HB 510, which establishes a foster parents’ bill of rights, increases transparency for foster parents, expands communication opportunities with professionals, and makes the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services (MDCPS) personnel more readily available for foster parents.
Additionally, it helps ensure that the educational needs of foster children are being met and provides access to available resources for parents.
HB 1671 expands the tax credit for pregnancy resource centers across the state from $3.5 million to $10 million.
SB 2696 creates an income tax credit for qualified adoption expenses. The program will cover a maximum of $10,000 worth of adoption expenses for those who adopt a child from Mississippi and $5,000 worth of expenses for children outside of Mississippi.
HB 1149 establishes the MDCPS as its own agency separate from the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS). According to Reeves, the separation will give it the ability to draw down more federal funds to support Mississippi families as well as help improve the efficiency of CPS procedures including adoption cases.
HB 1625 gives the MDCPS the largest budget in its history, equipping the agency with the resources needed to effectively carry out its mission and better support Mississippi children.
HB 1318 increases the opportunities available for parents to choose adoption by authorizing safe haven baby boxes across Mississippi. The legislation increases the age that children can be dropped off at these boxes, authorizes safety devices to be sponsored by emergency medical service providers, and authorizes any city or county to sponsor a baby safety device.
SB 2384 establishes the Mississippi Task Force on Foster Care and Adoption, which will study Mississippi’s laws regarding foster care, adoption, and other related areas and make recommendations for improvement to the legislature.
“Mississippi will always protect life. Our state will continue to be a beacon on the hill, a symbol of hope for the country, and a model for the nation,” Reeves said. “Mississippi will be relentless in its commitment to life. We will be relentless in our support of mothers and children. And we will be relentless in our efforts to advance the New Pro-life Agenda. The legislation I signed today is further proof that when it comes to protecting life, Mississippi isn’t just talking the talk – we’re walking the walk.”