To The Editor:

Tax credits have been given a bad rap lately.

Legislators are looking for ways to cut the state’s budget and tax credits seem to be a big target.

However, there is a special class of benevolent tax credits that promote charitable giving to programs serving Missouri’s abused and neglected children. Allowing individual donors to utilize these benevolent tax credits can reduce the impact on taxpayer resources in the future.

The Children in Crisis (CIC) tax credits increase private giving to Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs, Child Advocacy Centers and Crisis Care Centers.

These tax credits have enabled them to raise much needed funds to help foster children in Missouri.

Unfortunately, these tax credits are set to sunset on Aug. 28.

CASA advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children so they can thrive in safe, permanent homes. There are 22 local CASA programs throughout Missouri. The unclaimed portion of the Special Needs Adoption Tax Credit finances the CIC tax credits.

Since its inception, the tax credits have enabled CASA programs to raise over $900,000.

To allow the tax credits to sunset would be a huge detriment to Missouri’s most vulnerable children.

CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for foster children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in foster care.

Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.

For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives. National studies have shown that children with a CASA volunteer are half as likely to spend time in long-term foster care.

CASA advocacy saves taxpayer dollars as well. If the median length of stay were shortened for children in foster care by just one month, it would realize a national savings to taxpayers of approximately $2.75 billion.

Missouri has 22 local CASA programs throughout the state, with approximately 1,300 volunteers serving over 2,200 children. As of February 2012 there were 10,604 children in foster care in Missouri.

The funds raised, with the help of the CIC tax credits, serve to expand CASA programs ensuring more of Missouri’s children are appointed a volunteer advocate.

These benevolent tax credits should not be allowed to sunset.

Missouri’s foster children depend upon it.