On Friday June 3rd, 2022, House Ways and Means Worker & Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis (D-IL) and Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth Co-chair Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) introduced the Foster and Youth 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.

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.

“Getting a driver’s license is a key milestone of growing up and developing into an independent adult,” said Rep. Davis in the press release. “I am proud to work across the aisle with Rep. Bacon to help foster youth in each state and within tribes and territories to obtain their licenses by removing financial and regulatory barriers. Elements of this bill were temporarily enacted during the pandemic to address the needs of foster youth, and I look forward to creating a permanent grant to help these youth gain their independence. Foster youth deserve to experience the joy of passing their driving tests as well as the personal and professional opportunities that driving affords.”

“Many foster youths are prevented from obtaining a license because of their circumstances and financial status,” said Rep. Bacon in the same press release. “Our foster youth should be awarded the same privileges and experience the same personal and professional opportunities as other young teenagers attaining their driver’s license. The grants implemented in the Foster Youth and Driving Act help youth in both rural and urban communities, as well as tribal territories, gain independence. I appreciate working alongside Rep. Davis to create a better life for our foster youth.”