MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) – A bill that would give teens and young adults in foster care greater access to driver’s licenses unanimously passed its first Senate panel on Tuesday.
It’s the latest measure by state Sen. Nancy Detert, a Venice Republican known as a champion of foster kids, aimed at keeping them from falling behind their peers.
Not many of the teens and young adults learn to drive mostly due to liability issues, and Detert said that’s a barrier to their future success.
“Only 2 percent of them leave our care as adults knowing how to drive a car,” she said. “And we all know in today’s world and in Florida how important it is to have a vehicle in order to go to work and be a productive citizen.”
The bill, which was approved by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, would establish a three-year pilot program to cover the costs of driver’s education, licensure and auto insurance for qualified foster children. It would also cover the costs for foster parents to add kids to their motor-vehicle coverage.
Victoria Jackson, a member of the advocacy group Florida Youth SHINE, told lawmakers that as a former foster youth, she knows what it’s like to have no access to a car.
“So I ask you today, on behalf of all former and current foster youth, to provide us keys to independence — or better yet, our passports to independence,” she said. Also Tuesday, Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, filed the House version (HB 977) of Detert’s bill.
The News Service of Florida’s contributed to this report.