Today, Governor Rick Scott attended the Homeless Youth Forum hosted by the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough to ceremonially sign House Bill 1351, which gives homeless youth age 16 and older the ability to request and receive their birth certificate from the state. At the forum, several formerly homeless youth discussed their efforts to avoid homelessness.
Without a birth certificate, minors who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian cannot obtain other forms of identification, such as a Social Security card, driver's license or state identification card. Without such documentation, they face barriers that hinder their ability to recover from homelessness.
"By being empowered to access their own birth certificates, homeless youth are able to redirect the course of their lives, just like the young people we have heard from this morning," Governor Scott said. "Their willingness to share their stories is making a difference in the lives of those who face similar challenges."
During the 2010-2011 school year, Florida school districts identified 6,503 children who met the definition of an unaccompanied homeless youth, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Sponsored by Senator Jack Latvala, and Representatives Rich Gloriso and Jim Frishe, the bill was drafted by a group of high school students at Armwood High School in Hillsborough County.
"I want to commend the students who saw the barriers faced by their fellow students who were homeless and took action to get involved in our democratic process," said Governor Scott. "Their work is a perfect example of how our citizens have an important voice and say in shaping our laws."