Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Thursday a measure to help foster children get a driver’s license and auto insurance, as a step towards independence and educational or job opportunities.
HB 977, which unanimously passed the Legislature in the spring, requires the Department of Children and Families to work with a non-profit organization to set up a three-year pilot program for driver’s licence, education courses and auto insurance for children in the state’s foster-care system.
Sponsored in the Senate by Venice Republican Sen. Nancy Detert, the bill will aid the 2 percent of foster children leaving state care who have trouble with driver’s licenses “due to the fact that they do not have a parent to put them on their insurance.”
Rep. Ben Albritton, sponsor of the House version, called the measure “our ‘Keys to Independence’ bill.”
Funding for the program will be $800,000 annually, taken from the state’s general revenue. The new law also requires secondary schools to provide eligible foster-care students with preference when enrolling in driver-instruction programs. The bill becomes law July 1.