Each year, with the support of their families, millions of teens learn to drive and earn a driver’s license. But for teens in foster care, for whom securing a driver’s license can be critically important to their success, achieving this “normalcy” milestone can be complicated. Studies have shown that teens with access to a car do better in school, get better jobs, have more college options, and eventually, more successful careers. Without a driver’s license, these teens have difficulty traveling, securing an apartment and achieving gainful employment.
A new path is now open for our teens in foster care! On behalf of the Children’s Bureau and in partnership with ICF, Embrace Families and Treehouse have come together as Paving the Way to offer expertise to states and territorial child welfare agencies on creating or enhancing driver’s license and transportation programs for teens in foster care.
Embrace Families facilitates a program called Keys to Independence®, a statewide initiative designed to assist eligible youth and young adults in achieving a driver’s license and eliminating barriers that prevent them from driving. Treehouse is a Washington-based organization focused on achieving educational parity and providing other essential supports to nearly 8,000 children and youth in foster care across the state.
With the opportunity provided by the Division X Targeted Technical Assistance project, Paving the Way will offer a continuum of technical assistance (TA) services to support state and territorial child welfare agencies in implementing a driving program.
A driving program is an organized effort to ensure that youth in foster care have access to learner’s permits, driver’s licenses, and, ultimately, access to transportation. A program may provide assistance with costs related to obtaining a driver’s license and driving lawfully in a state which can include vehicle insurance costs, driver’s education classes, testing fees, practice lessons, license fees, roadside assistance, deductible assistance, and assistance in purchasing an automobile.
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