A Florida pilot program making it easier for foster teens to get driver's licenses and insurance is likely to become permanent.
The Legislature has approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach. The measure pays back cost for a learner's permit, driving school and insurance for those who have completed an education program. It covers teens until they’re 18 and a half.
Former foster teen Chelsea Bramblett was 22 when she testified in front of a Senate committee earlier this year on behalf of Bean’s bill.
“When I aged out of care at 18 I didn’t have my license,” she said. “I had really no experience driving other than driving classes that the school offered. I had very little transportation for public transportation because I lived in a rural area which really affected my ability to work and to go to school.”
Bean wants to ensure there are fewer obstacles between foster teens like Chelsea and behind-the-wheel independence.
“It’s going to be a great day for our young drivers in the state of Florida,” said Bean before the Senate unanimously approved the bill last month.
The House approved the bill Wednesday.
The program called “Keys to independence” has been operating as a pilot for three years, but Bean’s bill makes it permanent.
Bean says it’s helping about 1,200 teens, but 600 more Floridians are eligible, and he’s hoping they’ll all be aided this upcoming year. The bill now goes to Governor Rick Scott for a signature.
Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.