Advocates Optimistic Scott Will Sign Bill Aimed At Helping Florida's Disabled Foster Kids

May 28, 2015

Florida Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz (left) speaking during a recent Florida Children and Youth Cabinet meeting.
Credit Florida Channel

More bills are now awaiting Governor Rick Scott’s approval. It includes a measure aimed at helping kids aging out of foster care with developmental disabilities.

The Regis Little Act

Florida Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz says he’s sure the Governor is on board with signing the “The Regis Little Act to Protect Children with Special Needs.”

“That is the bill that says children as they’re about to turn 18 in foster care that do not have the capacity to be on their own—there’s now going to be a process in statute to ensure the right things are done so they can get a Guardian or a Guardian advocate prior to turning 18,” said Abramowitz, during a recent Florida Children and Youth Cabinet meeting.

The bill is named after Regis Little, a young man with mental illness and developmental disabilities who was stabbed to death in Orlando, just after he became an adult in 2009. At 18, he left foster care and refused state assistance. Abramowitz says had this bill been law at the time, it would have saved his life. The Governor has until June 10th to take action on the bill.

Hopes for Special Session

With the special session just around the corner, Abramowitz says he's hopeful his priorities will get into the budget.

“We’re real hopeful,” said Abramowitz. “We have over 10,000 volunteers. Over 82 percent of the children under court supervision have the GAL program and this year it was a $4.5 million ask, and the Governor supports it wholeheartedly. The House has supported the money also.”

Lawmakers never passed a state budget during this year’s legislative session over an impasse between the House and Senate on healthcare funding. They’ll be back in Tallahassee Monday, to start the 20-day special session.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.