On March 8th, 2023, House Ways and Means Work & Welfare Ranking Member Danny K. Davis (D-IL) and Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth Co-chair Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) re-introduced the Foster Youth and Driving Act, legislation that would increase the economic and social independence of youth in care by helping them obtain their driver’s licenses.
Transportation can be a significant barrier for youth in foster care, particularly in rural areas where public transportation options are limited or nonexistent. Possessing a driver’s license allows young people to gain employment, pursue education opportunities, and gain independence and success. Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative found youth in the foster care system with driver’s licenses were 1.6 times more likely than other students to attend school and nearly 2 times more likely to work. An outreach campaign by Think of Us found nearly two-thirds of youth in foster care surveyed requested assistance with at least on type of driving-related endeavor.
The costs associated with acquiring a license can be particularly burdensome for youth in foster care and their families, and this bill aims to help address these barriers by:
- Creating Driving and Transportation Assistance Programs in each state and in eligible tribes and territories providing up to $4,000 per year per youth to support driver’s education, insurance, fees, or other related costs.
- Helping states assist parents in obtaining driver’s licenses by directing states to describe via state plans how they will assist foster parents in accessing driver’s programs and including driving in youths’ case plans.
- Expanding assistance for tribal youth by adjusting the eligibility formula and allowing in-kind matching expenditures for tribes and tribal organizations.
- Strengthening and expanding state driving programs for youth in foster care by providing strong technical assistance to encourage development and best practices.
- Promoting a shared state and federal commitment to driving programs for youth in foster care by maintaining the Chafee state match to receive federal funding.
By Chris Bennett, Policy Intern