Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that will affect more than 9,000 Florida foster children Thursday.
The bill, called “Let Kids Be Kids,” will take effect on July 1 and will allow foster parents to make decisions for their children that would have required state approval.
Amanda Williams, a foster care parent and president of the Alachua County Adoptive Parent Association, said she feels the bill will help foster children have similar lives to children raised in traditional homes.
Williams said she adopted her daughter through the foster care system last year.
Now, her daughter will be able to do “anything that a normal parent would be able to approve,” she said.
Last year, her daughter wanted to go to prom but wasn’t able to attend, Williams said.
“We couldn’t get permission and everything together in time, so she missed that opportunity,” she said, “but with this new bill she’ll be able to do any of those activities.”
The Independent Living bill is also making its way through Florida State Legislature and is going to the Senate floor for approval.
If passed, the bill would give foster children the option to stay in the foster care program until they are 21.
Jenn Petion, Partnership for Strong Families director, said the bill would give the older foster children extra support if they need it.
“Parents don’t turn their kids out the door at 18 and say ‘Good luck. Make it on your own,’” she said. “We want to make sure these kids have the support that it takes to get through and to be successful on their own.”
Williams said both bills are a step in the right direction.
“I think both bills are really working to empower foster parents,” she said.
Jewel Midelis wrote this story online.