by Kids Win staff
The 2020 legislative session was certainly unique, but with the help of our allies, we secured some legislative victories for kids and families amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Our work to build and expand relationships in the Capitol with partners and allies continued, building champions in the legislature for the child well-being issues we work on, and laying the groundwork for some of our longer term goals for kids and families.
Some of the major highlights included:
- HB 1414 included Kids Win Missouri priorities of:
- Ensuring youth who are homeless have access to a birth certificate free of charge
- Ensures youth ages 19 and 20 experiencing homelessness, subject to federal approval of a Medicaid state plan amendment, can access health coverage
- Ensures unaccompanied youth can access mental health care
- Fixes a background check duplication issue for child care providers
- Allows for non-expiring child care licenses
- Creates temporary alternative placement agreements for families have safety plans with Children’s Division but are not in foster care
- HB 1682 included a provision to improve maternal and infant health by ensuring moms with postpartum depression or related health conditions, pending federal approval, are eligible for Medicaid health coverage for mental health services for 12 months postpartum.
We would also like to thank some of our legislative leaders who we engaged with throughout session to ensure passage of some of our key priorities, including:
- Early Childhood Education
- Senator Jeanie Riddle
- Representative Kip Kendrick
- Representative Brenda Shields
- Representative Kathy Swan
- 12-month continuous eligibility
- Senator Lincoln Hough
- Representative Steve Helms
- Representative Sarah Unsicker
- Youth Who Are Homeless
- Senator Bill White
- Representative Keri Ingle
- Representative Patricia Pike
- Child Welfare
- Senator Sandy Crawford
- Senator Doug Libla
- Senator David Sater
- Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman
- Representative Deb Lavender
- Representative Becky Ruth
- Representative Sheila Solon
Since 2020 is an election year, we’ll also be saying farewell to some of the legislators that we’ve worked with over the last several years to advance child well-being priorities in the legislature. These are the term limited legislators we’d like to recognize for various roles they’ve played that won’t be forgotten:
- Senator David Sater has a heart for ensuring that the child welfare system and budget of Missouri reflected priorities of children. As Chairman of the Seniors, Families, and Children committee, he worked on foster care issues, youth experiencing homelessness, and guided HB 1414 to passage this year.
- Senator Wayne Wallingford served as the state senate champion for the Quality Assurance Report, early childhood governance reforms, and worked to think outside-of-the-box on issues like the Visiting Teaching Scholars program, allowing professionals to teach their expertise in a secondary education setting.
- Representative Donna Pfautsch was a champion for early childhood education and sponsored the Quality Assurance Report pilot project and fought for multiple years to ensure it received funding.
- Representative Holly Rehder has always been an outspoken advocate for programs to lift citizens up. Rep. Rehder often worked in both outspoken and behind the scene ways to ensure children and families are able to access on Medicaid, SNAP, and TANF programs.
- Representative Kathy Swan has been an ardent supporter of ensuring that the early childhood system in Missouri functions well. Rep. Swan served as a National Conference of State Legislatures Early Childhood Fellow, sponsored early childhood governance reforms, and supported early childhood budget programs.
- Representative David Wood served as the Vice Chair of the House Budget committee and worked to protect and expand home visiting funding. Rep. Wood will begin serving as the Children’s Division Director on June 15.