A Mississippi law that created a new tax credit is being praised for helping children who are being raised in the state’s foster care system.
The Children's Promise Act, sponsored by state Rep. Mark Baker, creates a dollar-for-dollar credit off a Mississippian's final tax liability.
Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill into law, the first of its kind in the country, last month.
Jameson Taylor of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, which supported the legislation, says the Magnolia State is like many other states struggling to administer a foster care system filled with children rescued from broken families, human trafficking, and drug-addicted households.
Mississippi is famously among the poorest states in the Union, and there are approximately 5,000 children in the state's foster care system that was mandated to improve its operations by a legal settlement in 2014.
Taylor says the state is one of many under legal requirements to improve the system, “but this is a problem that is too complex for the government to handle alone."
One nonprofit that will benefit from the new law is The Baptist Children's Village. It partners with the state government to care for children but also depends solely on donations to house, feed, and clothe approximately 200 children a year at seven campuses in the state.
"We are licensed by the state and we serve the state's children," explains executive director Sean Milner, who himself grew up at the Village he is now overseeing.
"The whole reason we're able to do that,” he says of the nonprofit, “is because of individual donors and churches in the Mississippi Baptist Convention, (and) the Children's Promise Act now creates a partnership between us, the legislators, and the donors because so many people sacrificially give to us so children can have a home.”
Many people who have donated to the Village have never received any financial benefit until now, he says, and thanks to the new law up to $800 can be deducted from the state income tax.