Community News

Embrace Families Drives National Change for Youth in Foster Care

"Dance, Dream & Inspire' Embrace Families Logo

Nonprofit Advocates for Greater Access to Driver’s Licenses

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb 11, 2022) – Designed to give children in foster care the same opportunities as their peers, a transformative program pioneered by Central Florida-based Embrace Families has now become an example for other jurisdictions across the country.

On behalf of the Children’s Bureau and in partnership with ICF, Embrace Families (overseeing child welfare in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties) and Treehouse (an organization providing similar services in the state of Washington) have come together to create Paving the Way to offer expertise to states and territorial child welfare agencies on creating a driver’s license program for teens in foster care.

This new nationwide effort, Paving the Way with Division XTA, mirrors the Florida nonprofit’s Keys to Independence program.

In 2014, Florida lawmakers were asked to allocate state dollars to help foster parents, group homes and teens in care cover the costs of obtaining a driver’s license. At the time, fewer than 20 young people in the state’s foster care system had a license or learner’s permit. Legislators approved the request having now helped more than 3,000 teens across Florida gain greater independence.

“As we develop plans to support states and jurisdiction in implementing their efforts, the experience that Embrace Families brings to the table is essential,” said ICF’s Francesca Stern. “Enthusiasm is building to make this rite of passage – getting a driver’s license – more accessible and equitable.”

For more information about Paving the Way with Division XTA, visit www.pavingtheway.us. For more information about Keys to Independence, visit www.keystoindependencefl.com. For more information about Embrace Families or how to get involved to help, visit www.EmbraceFamilies.org.

About the Paving the Way with Division XTA ProjectPaving the Way is funded under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Contract #75ACF121F80017, Division X Target Technical Assistance Project and part of an overall effort supporting states and jurisdictions in implementing the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act, Division X of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Public Law (P.L.) 116-260 (Division X). Program Instruction available https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/cb/pi2104.pdf.

 About Embrace FamiliesEmbrace Families, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, helps Central Florida families overcome the root causes of abuse and neglect through programs that offer case management and other prevention services. When a child can’t remain safely in their home, we support them through foster care, adoption, mentoring and beyond. For more information, visit www.embracefamilies.org, “like” Embrace Families” on Facebook or follow it on Twitter and Instagram.

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About the author

Meaghan Branham

Meaghan Branham is the managing editor for i4 Business, where she oversees the company’s digital media strategy, handles client relationship marketing for the print and digital magazines, and serves as one of the publication’s lead writers. A native of Brevard County, she splits her time between Central Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.

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