Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Licensed to drive - Teens in the AK foster care system

A critical independent living skill for teenagers is learning how to drive a car. For teens in foster care, this is as important, if not more so.

It can be hard to build a future while hoofing it or taking the bus. Transportation is an integral part of holding a job.

However, anyone under 18 who applies for a driver's license is required to have a signature from a parent, guardian, employer or any other person willing to be held responsible for any damage caused by the teenage driver.

But what about teens in foster care?
-Some parents cannot or will not sign.
-Some foster parents can't afford liability coverage.
-Some teens in foster care are housed in group homes or residential facilities, and have no one to sign for them.
-Some teenagers who are wards of the state live independently and have no foster parents.

A new law in Arkansas allows the director of the Children and Family Services Division or a designated employee to sign for a foster child without assuming personal liability.

Under Senate Bill 247 by Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville, the state of Arkansas will assume liability for driving accidents by foster children.

No other method would allow foster children old enough to drive but not to obtain their own liability insurance coverage to get valid driver's licenses,
bill supporters told the committee.

The estimated cost is about $266,000 in annual premiums and about $5,000 annually in deductibles resulting from accidents or other claims.

The financial impact upon the state is expected to be less than the existing impact of teen-agers being unable to contribute fully to their own support through jobs.

The bill passed 26-0 in the Senate and then went to the House. Governor Beebee signed it into law last week. Eligibility is dependent on criteria such as good behavior and good grades.

Senator Sue Madison says that she is more proud of the bill's passage than of any other work that she has ever done.

Source:
Legislative briefs, Arkansas News Bureau, March 13, 2007.
Foster kids may be allowed driving privileges. Today's THV, March 11, 2007.
New law allows driver's licenses for foster children. Fox 16, March 12, 2007.

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Comments:
In some states, like mine, foster parents may not sign for their foster children, even if we want to.
 
Yondalla,

Please email me privately to let me know what state you live in...

I don't want you to post anything personal online, but I want to follow up with the issues in your state on a nationwide level.

Lisa
 
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