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Congress Weighs Input About Florida's Foster Care Reforms

Florida’s new foster care reforms are in the national spotlight, after Congressional leaders held a hearing Thursday to look into different efforts to help those in the foster care system around the nation.

Getting court approval to sleep over at a friend’s house or even get a driver’s license was a barrier facing Florida’s foster care youth for years, before Governor Rick Scott recently signed a bill into law that would erase those challenges. State Senator Nancy Detert is the author of the “Normalcy” bill. And, speaking before a Congressional Ways and Means Subcommittee Thursday, Detert weighed in on how others could follow Florida’s example.

“Is there any federal law that’s really causing the states to have a reaction in limiting the activity of foster youth,” asked U.S. Representative Dave Reichert, the panel's chairman.

“It's really a mindset, and we just need to change the emphasis to permanency and to normalcy. So, if the federal government would just rearrange its way of thinking, which is what we had to do in Florida as we wrote this law,” Detert replied.

Another bill sponsored by Detert is also heading to the Governor's desk extends the age for those in foster care from 18 to 21 to make kids again out of the system more self-sufficient.

Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins and his wife and fellow foster kid advocate, Tanya, also joined Detert at the hearing.

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

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.