Embrace Families to Help Other States Introduce Similar Programs
ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 26, 2022) – Keys to Independence , a statewide program which started in Central Florida as a pilot project eight years ago, recently reached an impressive milestone: awarding its 1,000th driver’s license to a youth in foster care.
Funded by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and managed by Embrace Families, the lead agency overseeing child welfare in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, Keys to Independence makes it easier for thousands of teenagers who grow up in foster care to sign up for driver’s education courses, receive driving lessons, and cover the costs of becoming a licensed driver, including car insurance.
“Being a teenager is difficult enough, without being in foster care where nothing feels normal,” said Darlene Rogers, a licensed caregiver whose twin foster daughters received licenses and car insurance through Keys to Independence. “Because of this program, my girls can experience the independence and freedom that ‘normal’ kids have. I cannot overstate how much this positively impacts their lives.”
Added Glen Casel, President and CEO of Embrace Families: “Learning to drive is more than a rite of passage – it’s a major part of the transition to adulthood. Our goal has always been to eliminate barriers that have historically held back youth in foster care. Being able to drive to school and work sets our young people up for success in all stages of life.”
Before Keys to Independence was introduced at the state level in 2014, fewer than 20 foster youth had a Florida driver’s license or learner’s permit. Since that time, more than 1,000 licenses and 1,880 learner’s permits have been obtained through this program by teens in foster care.
Due to this success, Florida now serves as a model for other states wanting to make it easier for foster youth to obtain a driver’s license. Embrace Families is serving as a consultant to assist any state interested in introducing a similar program.
For more information about Keys to Independence, visit www.keystoindependencefl.com, and for more information about Embrace Families or how to get involved, visit www.EmbraceFamilies.org.
About Embrace Families
Embrace 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.