|Posted:||January 8, 2021 07:21 PM|
|From:||Representative Tarah Toohil|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Keys to Independence for Foster Youth Age 16-21|
|I will be reintroducing legislation that would create a program to assist older youth in placement through child welfare with obtaining drivers' education, training, and providing for costs associated with maintaining an auto insurance policy.
Foster youth need to be able to obtain a learner’s permit and a driver’s license just as easily as a non-foster youth. They need access to driver’s education courses, both lessons in the classroom and on the road to help them learn to be safe drivers and to pass their driver’s test. Foster youth also need access to automobile insurance. Car insurance may present a major roadblock, because foster youth need insurance to own a car and drive. Not being able to drive is a huge road block to finding a job.
Currently, youth in foster care and other out of home placements have two options regarding obtaining auto insurance. They can either be placed on their foster parent’s policy or purchase their own policy. For foster parents, having foster children on their policy may dramatically increase their rates, as with other new driver being added to a policy; however, unlike a parent adding a new driver to their auto policy, many foster parents never see their rates decrease as their foster children leave the system and they then have new foster children, continuing the increased rates due to having another new driver on the policy. If you add in any claims, this can create an ever-increasing policy cost that can quickly become unmanageable. The other option of having foster youth obtain their own policy is often unfeasible due to the expense and limited earnings that young adults can make with part-time employment.
This bill would create a program to provide subsidies to pay for drivers training, licensing, and auto policies to allow young drivers to be able to obtain and afford their own policy. This will reduce the burden on the foster parent and allow the youth to begin developing their own record of insurance coverage. The independence that the foster youth gains with their driver’s license is invaluable toward creating a normal teenage experience and preparing a foster youth for their independence as an adult.
Through the hard work of now Chairman Hickernell, the legislature passed Act 75 in 2015, known as the “Prudent Parent Standard” and/or Activities and Experiences for Children in Out-of-Home Placement Act, designed to help children and youth who are in Pennsylvania’s foster care system live more normal lives. My bill would take this idea further and greatly assist older youth in transitioning to adulthood and independence.
I invite you to join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation. Thank you for your consideration.
Former HB1326 Toohil (2019-2020)
Introduced as HB631