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Better foster care requires more knowledge | Letters to the editor

The Florida House  during the 2022 legislative session in Tallahassee. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
The Florida House during the 2022 legislative session in Tallahassee. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

 

The Florida Legislature has passed several laws to benefit children in foster care, but until now, our state did not have educational standards in place to ensure that children know of their existence. Caregivers also often don’t know how to educate kids about the laws that impact their future.

The child welfare system can be complex and confusing. Children may think they can’t play sports, go to college or hold a job while in foster care. Data estimate that only 35% of Florida foster youth received transition services they were eligible for between ages 14 and 21. That’s 12% less than the estimate nationally, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

So we applaud lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis for passing and signing Senate Bill 272, the Nancy C. Detert Champion for Children Act. The law creates a clear process to educate youth in foster care in a developmentally appropriate, consistent way about important laws to help them succeed. It is the result of five years of relentless advocacy by Florida Youth SHINE (FYS), a statewide group run by and for youth who are or were in the child welfare system. Young people in the system will now be better informed about their rights and better equipped to achieve financial stability and independence.

Geori Seldine, Boynton Beach

The writer is executive director of Florida’s Children First (FCF), which advances the rights of at-risk children and youth in foster care.

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