Each year, millions of families support their teen children in learning to drive and earning a driver’s license. For teens in foster care, a driver’s license is proven to be critically important to their success and a critical feature of providing “normalcy” for these youths. In fact, 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.
In 2014, the Florida Legislature passed the “Keys to Independence Act.” The “Keys to Independence Act” provides for reimbursement for the cost of a license and most critically – the cost to insure the foster youth once they complete a driver’s education program.
Prior to the enactment of the “Keys to Independence Act,” only 12 youth in Florida’s foster care system had a driver’s license. In just a few short years, Florida was able to help over (2600) youths obtain driver’s permits and licenses.
The “KEYS” program was the inspiration for bipartisan legislation HR 7042, the “Foster Youth and Driving Act,” introduced by Chairman Danny Davis (D-IL) and Representative Don Bacon (R-NE) during the last session of Congress.
It is anticipated that similar legislation will be introduced in the 117th Congress. In the meantime, Congress has demonstrated support for this initiative by including language in the ‘Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act’’, providing federal funding to support foster youth obtaining a driver’s license and providing critical technical assistance in enacting similar programs. The language for this provision can be found beginning on page 1228 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
Learn more about the model the comprehensive model program, Keys to Independence: