Florida Lawmakers Ease Restrictions on Foster Parents’ Discretion
Zephyrhills, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 24, 2013 - Florida's foster parents just gained a bit more leeway in making decisions on how to care for foster children.
That is thanks to a recent change in the law scheduled to go into effect July 1. The so-called “Normalcy Bill,” one of the first to be signed by Gov. Rick Scott in this year's legislative session, gives foster parents discretion over a number of activities that until now, required court orders, such as obtaining driver's licenses, going on school trips, and even traveling to neighboring counties on day trips with foster families.
“This common-sense change will have great benefits for Florida's foster parents,” said Zephyrhills divorce lawyer Marcie Baker. “Being a foster parent is challenging enough without having to get special permission for normal family activities. Hopefully this legislation will help place foster children in loving forever homes.”
Florida has nearly 8,000 children in the foster care system as wards of the state. Unfortunately, less than 6,000 currently live with foster parents; hopefully, this change in the law will encourage others to become foster parents.
Gov. Scott praised the bill at a signing ceremony in front of the Capitol on a recent Thursday morning, surrounded by children's advocates and foster families. He called the legislation the “Let Kids Be Kids bill” and said foster children should have all the same opportunities as other children.
State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, sponsored the measure. She credited the work of members of the Guardian Ad Litem program and advocacy groups such as Youth SHINE. After the passage of the bill, Detert spoke at a hearing of the Ways and Means Subcommittee of the U.S. Congress about how to help foster families around the nation. She said that the Florida legislature “rearranged its way of thinking” and began to emphasize permanency and normalcy in the foster care system.
Detert sponsored another foster care bill since passed by the Legislature. That bill would extend foster care, at the option of the child, to the age of 21 – three years longer than current law provides. If Scott signs the bill as expected, lawmakers hope it will help keep young adults out of trouble and help them obtain high school diplomas.
Marcie Baker is a partner in the firm of Alston & Baker, P. A. To contact a Zephyrhills Social Security lawyer, Zephyrhills accident attorney, or Zephyrhills divorce lawyer, visit http://www.alstonbakerlaw.com.
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