Easier access to driver’s licenses could improve lives of foster teens

By Adrianna Pitrelli
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Breann Delaney is passionate about bettering the lives of teenage foster children, especially those who are seeking employment or have a desire to better their education.

“Foster children who went through traumatic experiences at no fault of their own deserve normalcy,” Delaney said.

The passion for a normal life comes after being taken from her mother just before her 10th birthday. Throughout the following eight years, Delaney bounced from foster homes to group homes, with no steady living environment, exacerbated by the fact she couldn’t drive.

Under current Indiana law, individuals in foster care are not able to obtain a driver’s license, get car insurance or go to driver education school without a someone who chooses to be responsible for the child behind the wheel.

Like most foster children, Delaney didn’t have someone who could sign as her as she was regularly in different foster and group homes.

At the age of 16, Delaney got her first job but didn’t always have transportation readily available. Rather, she could only work when a foster parent was able to drive her.

“If I would have been able to drive myself to work, I could have picked up at least two more hours a shift,” Delaney said. “I could have made more than $6,000 a year, which could have helped me buy a car, or go to school.”

If passed, Senate Bill 366 would allow foster children between the ages of 16 and 18 to get a license and insurance after going through a review by the juvenile court.  The court would review each person to ensure they are ready to get a license and liability insurance.

“A driver’s license allows this age group to begin the process of living like any normal teenager would,” Sen. Andy Zay, R-Huntington, the bill’s author said. “This will help graduate them into the workplace and allow them to begin forming their independence.”

Zay and members of the Homeland Security and Transportation committee agreed that having a driver’s license is crucial to job opportunities and college readiness.

“This gives the youth in this arena an opportunity to be normal and it will help with everything else which is very important to their futures,” Zay said.

Florida and Missouri have already launched similar programs. The regulation passed the committee 9-0 and will move to the Senate for further review.

Adrianna Pitrelli is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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