Senate Bill Could Help Hand Car Keys To Kids In Foster Care


February 18, 2014 9:18 PM

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.

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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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