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Senator Bean, District 4 — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 23, 2017

CONTACT: Austin Nicklas, (850) 487-5004


Youth in Child Welfare System Score Win as Senator Bean's SB 60 Passes Florida Senate

Tallahassee – Senate Bill 60, Children Obtaining Driver Licenses, by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville), passed unanimously in the Florida Senate today. The bill is a substantial win for youth in Florida’s child welfare system.  It makes permanent a pilot program helping foster teens obtain driver’s licenses.  The program, known as “Keys to Independence,” assists youth that have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect with obtaining a learner’s permit or driver’s license.  Additionally, the program offers financial assistance to teens and helps them find driver education courses and insurance.

“This legislation is absolutely necessary and will empower youth to succeed as adults,” said Senator Bean. “We heard so much great testimony from foster youth who are pursuing their education, trying to find jobs, or starting a life for themselves, often while leaving abusive or neglectful circumstances behind them.  As the people responsible for constructing the child welfare system, we must give these children the tools necessary to lead successful, independent lives as young adults.”

The “Keys to Independence” program has served over 1,000 children and has quadrupled the number of youth with driver’s licenses. In addition to making the project permanent, Senate Bill 60 also makes improvements based on data from the pilot project. This includes expanding eligibility to all children in out-of-home care and allowing a grace period to complete the program if a child transitions to a new home.  The bill also requires the courts to evaluate whether a teen is ready to receive their driver’s license before they leave the child welfare system.  Representative Jennifer Sullivan (R-Eustis) sponsored a similar measure, HB 217, in the Florida House of Representatives.

Senator Aaron Bean represents District 4, which includes parts of Nassau and Duval Counties.  He can be contacted in Tallahassee at 850-487-5004 or in his District Office at 904-757-5039.  To learn more about Keys to Independence, a program administered by Community Based Care of Central Florida, please visit www.keystoindependencefl.org.