Measure Allowing Foster Children to Get Driver’s License Sent to Scott

Codi Crowley, a 17-year-old in foster care, may soon be able to drive herself to high school medical courses at Traviss Career Center in Lakeland.

The Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill Friday that allows foster children 16 to 18 years old to obtain a driver license and sent it to Gov. Rick Scott to be signed into law. It previously passed the Florida House.

The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Ben Albritton, R- Wauchula, whose district includes a large section of South Polk County, and by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, in the Senate.

Both Albritton and Detert successfully sponsored a large foster care “normalcy” package last year that they said would help these children who are often prevented from normal adolescence activities. Such “normal” activities as going to a sleep-over or group dates had been difficult because of liabilities and rules imposed by the state.

But foster children who are eligible by age still can’t get a driver license. In a case like Crowley’s, who lives with nine girls who choose to stay at the Sheriff’s Youth Ranch in Bartow in a special cottage set aside for older girls in the system, the lack of a license is a problem.

“We get taken by bus to where we have to be. Ten girls trying to get ready on time is difficult. If one person is five minutes late, it throws everyone off from where they have to be, especially for classes,” Crowley had

Crowley has a Saturday job and college plans for her future, but she can’t drive to that job and can’t get a license.

Because she is still in the foster care system, she has no way to pay for the license and insurance, much less a car. And there is the state liability.

Detert took up Albritton’s bill, House Bill 977, which passed and now goes to Scott. She told senators there will be $800,000 for what will be a three-year statewide pilot program to cover license fees and insurance.

[ Ledger Political Editor Bill Rufty can be reached at or 863-802-7523. ]

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Alexia Nechayev

FYS Events & Meeting Chair
(Palm Beach)

Hello, My name is Alexia Nechayev. I am 25 years old and I am an alumna of Florida International University where I received my B.A. in Psychology. My future career goal is to be a Lawyer. I was in care for about one year from age 17 to 18. Prior to entering care, I only knew about the negative stigma regarding foster care and while in care that narrative was unfortunately my experience.

In school I felt like I was on display because my status in care was broadcast to other students and in my placement behavior was leveraged for “privileges” that should be a natural right of all children. Because I did not know my rights I did not know that what I was experiencing was wrong. Today this is exactly why I advocate, because I don’t want this to be the same for other youth who are experiencing foster care.

This is my second year on the FYS Statewide Board and I’m happy to be the Events and Meetings Chair this year because my main goal through advocacy is to reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing as a board member is to see how comfortable members become while working together. The community needs to know that youth in foster care are real people, going through some of the hardest moments of their life and youth need to know that their voice is powerful. I believe that we have to speak up and bring these issues to people’s attention so that they do not forget us. Advocacy, education and consistency is the only way.

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