Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that would waive the fees for domestic violence survivors to get a copy of their birth certificates.
Advocates say the bill would save shelters money and help survivors get back on their feet.
In Missouri, it costs $15 for a copy of a birth certificate from a local health department.
Lisa Farmer is executive director of the largest domestic violence shelter in Springfield, Harmony House.
Farmer said Harmony House spends between $4,000 to $6,000 every year on birth certificate fees.
“It is a very real hindrance to survivors and their ability to move forward if they don’t have personal identification,” Farmer said.
State Representative Chris Dinkins, who’s sponsoring the bill, said two women from the SEMO Family Violence Council spoke about the birth certificate issue.
Dinkins said she hopes the bill won’t die on the Senate floor like it did last year.
“The compassion and the stories they told me about these victims of domestic violence, it just makes you want to do everything you can to make sure you can help them get back on their feet and get away from their abuser, ” Dinkins said.
According to the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, more than 30,000 requests for shelter and services were unmet in 2018 in Missouri alone, mostly due to a lack of funding and space.