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Bill Passes Helping Foster Kids Learn To Drive, Get Driver Licenses

Florida's Guardian Ad Litem

A bill making it easier for foster kids to obtain a Florida driver’s license cleared its first Senate committee Tuesday.

Venice Republican Senator Nancy Detert says little by little, state lawmakers are making life easier for foster kids. Now, Detert wants to get rid of a roadblock she says has been causing problems for foster kids close to going out on their own.

“We found that when they were leaving the system at age 18, not knowing how to drive a car, a lot of them were ending up homeless, or were in jail, because we did not give them the tools for independence,” said Detert.

So, under a pilot program in her so-called “Keys to Independence” bill, foster parents would be reimbursed for putting foster kids on their insurance as well as paying for drivers’ education courses—something Detert says is hard for them to do today because of the cost.

“So, I think this is just another thing that needs to be done when only two percent of them end up being able to drive a car. It’s pretty hard to be successful to be, even employed, if you can’t get to work,” Detert added.

Detert says she’s also considering getting rid of one provision in her bill, after some lawmakers raised concerns that foster kids would get preference when in enrolling in driver’s ed courses.

Her bill passed the Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee unanimously Tuesday. It’s expected to cost the state $800,000 for the first year of the three-year pilot.

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.