Brandon, FL (Law Firm Newswire) August 22, 2014 - Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill to help foster children age 16 or older get around by car.
The bill, HB 977, is a continuation of legislators' efforts to improve the lives of Florida's foster children and enable them to engage in normal age-appropriate activities. The 2013 legislative session saw the passage of a bill that trimmed the rules and regulations surrounding foster care that often made it difficult for children to participate in enriching activities with their peers, such as sleepovers and school field trips. Another 2013 bill extended the cutoff age for foster system support from 18 to 21 years.
“As a practicing family law attorney, I know that foster kids thrive when they are able to do all the same normal, healthy things their friends get to do,” said attorney O. Reginald Osenton. “Last year's law changes were a big step forward, and this bill builds on that.”
The so-called “Keys to Independence Act” has created a three-year-long pilot program administered by the Department of Children and Families. It helps pay the cost of driver education, licensure and auto insurance for foster children who cannot afford it on their own. Because foster children often have no one who will allow them to be a party to their insurance, the law also grants them the statutory ability to contract for auto insurance on their own. The program is expected to cost $800,000.
State Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice sponsored the Senate version of the bill, as well as the 2013 foster care reforms. She said she first tried to get a foster children driver education bill passed 15 years ago. According to Detert, just two percent of foster children have a driver's license when they age out of the system.
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