Today, Governor Eric Greitens announced that boys and girls in foster care will no longer be required to pay the state to get a copy of their birth certificate. This change takes effect immediately. The Governor released the following statement:
"Imagine you're a sixteen-year-old in Missouri. Like most sixteen-year-olds, you want to get a job and learn to drive. You want to be more independent and self-sufficient. Pretty simple, right?
Except if you're a teenager in foster care. To get a driver's license or to fill out employment paperwork, you need a birth certificate. You probably don't have your birth certificate. No one in your life knows where it is. You could request it, but the state—your legal parent—will make you pay for it. And that's tough because you may not have the cash. You may not even have your own bank account.
Before today, this was how the state of Missouri dealt with young people in the foster care system. We made foster kids pay the state for their birth certificates.
Sheena recently met with a group of current and former foster youth to hear their thoughts. These kids told Sheena, over and over again, that not having a birth certificate made it difficult for them to get a license, learn to drive, and get a job. Sheena took that message to the team.
Today we’re making a change so that foster youth in Missouri will no longer have to pay the state to get a birth certificate. They'll get a copy provided to them at no charge. This is a small fix for the government. It'll make a good difference in some kids’ lives.
Foster kids don't have teams of lobbyists. They don’t know insiders or the special interests. And in the past, that meant that they were—like too many Missourians—forgotten.
Until now. We're standing up for them. This is who we were sent here to fight for: the vulnerable, the forgotten, the people who get a raw deal while the powerful get their way. That's what we were sent here to do, and I’m proud that everyone on the team is keeping their promise to fight for you."
First Lady Sheena Greitens released the following statement, “The children and young people in Missouri’s foster care system need to know that we’re listening to them, and that we are working every day to make their experiences better. I’m delighted that the state is making this change to lower barriers for kids in foster care, which will help them acquire important life skills and have normal childhood experiences.”
Edie Hammet, State Youth Advisory Board Chairperson, released the following statement, “Having a free birth certificate helps me because in order to get a job I needed mine. I wasn’t able to get a copy from my caseworker, so my foster parents had to cover the cost. Not every youth is that lucky. So this change helps provides independence skills for youth in care to be able to get a job, a license, and any number of things that other young people their age are getting.”