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Austin applauds House passage of co-sponsored foster youth legislation

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INDIANAPOLIS - State Rep. Terri J. Austin (D-Anderson) announced the unanimous passage of Senate Bill (SB) 246 which will provide assistance to foster youth who are attempting to obtain a driver's license and insurance in Indiana.  Austin serves as one of the House sponsors of the bill.

SB 246, authored by State Sen. Kyle Walker (R-Lawrence), authorizes FSSA to establish a non-profit organization specifically to accept funds that can be used to help offset the cost of automobile insurance and driver's training costs for foster youth. 

The legislation also sets up a trust fund to help defray the cost of motor vehicle insurance to foster youth and adults up to age 23. The trust fund will be able to accept money donated to the fund, federal funds that may be available for which the state is eligible, future state appropriations or funding that may be available through fees collected from an insuring foster youth trust fund license plate that may be established in the future.

In addition, it covers the costs associated with up to 44 of the 50 hours of supervised driving which is required for Indiana residents to receive a drivers’ license.

“Foster children in our state must overcome many challenges to living happy, healthy lives,” Austin said. “The ability to obtain a driver's license and purchase insurance are two obstacles to seeking stable employment and furthering their education. This bill will help children exiting foster care meet those goals.” 

According to statistics, there are more than 31,000 youth in foster care in Indiana. Only 64% of students in foster care graduate from high school as compared with 88 percent of all students, and only 1 in 10 graduate with academic honors as compared to 40% of all students. 

The bill also provides that a state or local government agency, a foster parent, or an entity providing services shall not be liable for any damages resulting from a foster youth's operation of an automobile owned and insured by the foster youth. 

“Senate Bill 246 is a great example of the type of legislation that we can pass when we come together in a bipartisan manner,” Austin added.

Senate Bill 246 passed the House with a vote of 84-0.

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