Governor Rick Scott today signed SB 1036, extending the age foster youth can stay in foster care from 18 to 21.
Governor Scott said, "As we continue to put Florida's families first, we have a responsibility to invest in programs and pass legislation to help our vulnerable populations, like our children in foster care. This new law will ensure kids entrusted in our care have the best start possible into adulthood and provide them the opportunity to obtain the life skills necessary so they may live the American Dream."
The bill signed today gives young adults the option to stay in foster care until age 21 and requires a transition plan be made for those who are leaving foster care. In addition, this new law requires the Department of Children and Families to provide 17 year old foster youth with the necessary information, records, and documentation required for self-sufficient independent living.
Governor Scott was joined by bill sponsors Senator Nancy Detert and Representative Keith Perry, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families, David Wilkins, Florida's advocate for Foster and adoption, Tanya Wilkins, as well as foster youth from across the state.
Senator Nancy Detert said, "I was proud to be here today to join Governor Scott in signing this bill that is a result of hard work and collaboration between the House, the Senate and the Department of Children and Families. This bill demonstrates what government should be doing for its citizens and I am proud that Florida is one of the first states to offer this type of support for the foster care community. I will forever be grateful to Senate President Don Gaetz for naming this bill the "Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act."
Representative Keith Perry said, "The success of our foster youth is a direct reflection of the resources and care we provide them. I applaud Governor Scott and the Legislature for taking the right steps towards improving our foster care system by passing this legislation and signing it into law today."
DCF Secretary David Wilkins said, "The eyes of the nation are on Florida as we make historic changes to the foster care system, paving the way for brighter futures for the children and young adults entrusted to our care. I am grateful to Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for making Florida a national model for common sense and compassion, and for giving young adults in foster care the resources and support they need to be successful."
Tanya Wilkins, Florida's Advocate for Foster and Adoption said, "We would not send our own children out into the world on their 18th birthday without a safety net and an option to return home when they need extra support," On behalf of children in foster care, I want to thank Florida's great leaders for giving them a better start in life and the ability to achieve their dreams."