General Assembly Could Pass Foster Youth Bills

Two bills that would have dramatic impact on Indiana foster youth are closer to becoming law this Indiana General Assembly session.

General Assembly Considers SB 366

Senate Bill 366 (Driver’s Licenses for Foster Youth) allows teenagers in foster care to obtain a driver’s license. The bill also waives BMV fees, permits foster youth to take driver education, and allows them to sign for their own auto insurance.  Right now, teenagers in foster care can’t take driver education without court approval and often need the signature of their legal parent to obtain a driver’s license.

Senate Bill 366 is awaiting a concurrence vote in the Indiana Senate that would agree to House changes to the bill.  If the Senate concurs with the changes, the measure will then go to the Governor for consideration.

SB 497

Similar to the provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows other young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, Senate Bill 497 (Medicaid for Former Foster Youth) provides Medicaid coverage to age 26 for former foster youth who age out of foster care without permanent families. Senate Bill 497 passed the Indiana Senate 48-1 and awaits a vote in the House.

Indiana Connected By 25 CEO Brent Kent applauds the legislature for taking up these important foster youth issues.

“A driver’s license is an important rite of passage for soon-to-be adults and a milestone toward independence. It’s a critical prerequisite for getting a part-time job, participating in after-school activities and learning to be self-sufficient,” said Kent.

Kent praises the other pending piece of legislation in the Indiana General Assembly.

“Senate Bill 497 is about providing foster youth with the same type of supports the rest of us have as young adults. By passing this bill, the legislature will clear an enormous hurdle to independence for foster youth who leave Indiana’s foster care system without moms and dads. Without a doubt, this bill will save lives.”

Approximately 500 foster youth age out of the foster care system in Indiana every year without permanent families. Young people leaving foster care suffer from PTSD at two times the rate of soldiers returning from war. Without health insurance and family support, foster youth go without medical care, and as a result face higher rates of homelessness and unemployment.