JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's governor and first lady want lawmakers to make it easier for children in foster care to open bank accounts.
Minors often need an adult co-signor to open bank accounts, Missouri Bankers Association lobbyist Craig Overfelt said. First lady Sheena Greitens said this poses challenges for teenagers in foster care because they might not have an adult who will co-sign.
There's an exemption in state law that allows homeless 16- and- 17-year-olds to open an account without an adult's help, and Sheena Greitens told a panel of lawmakers this month that she and her husband want to expand it to include foster children.
Overfelt said the Missouri Bankers Association doesn't oppose the proposed change, which he said would clarify how banks can help foster children.
The Greitens' proposal, which they want the Legislature to consider next session, is part of their broader goal to improve the state's foster care and adoption programs, which Sheena Greitens has said was inspired by her adopted sister.
"These are all of our kids," Eric Greitens told The Associated Press. "They are the children of the people of Missouri by law and they are our children in spirit, and we have to do everything we can to take care of them."
The couple also wants to get fees waived for foster children to get copies of their birth certificates. The Greitens administration has stopped charging foster children the $15 fee, but Sheena Greitens said making it law would ensure it continues after her husband leaves office.
She told lawmakers that part of her and her husband's strategy is enacting small changes that add up, such as filling vacant or expired seats on state child advocacy boards and ensuring the child abuse hotline accepts out-of-state calls.
"We know that there are these small things that have cumulative effects, and that's why we're so focused on finding every single tool that we have to try and make things better for these kids," the first lady said.