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Proposed bill would extend foster care

10:00 PM, Apr 22, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- What a difference 3 years can make.

That's the point of a new bill working its way through the legislature that would give children in foster care 3 additional years with their foster families.

As it stands, children in foster care are on their own at 18.
Many of them are left completely alone; some of them end up on the streets with nowhere else to go.
But advocates for this new bill say it could change all that.

"I've been in foster care, I've been adopted twice, and I've also been in relative care," said Kierra Perkins.

Perkins has been in the foster care system for 10 years.
She said no one has ever explained to her how she ended up there, but when she turned 18 last year, she was kicked out. 

"At 18, you're not grown. It's just one more day from yesterday when you were 17. You're still a kid, you're still living under someone else, them taking care of you," she said.

Kierra said she was lucky her foster mom helped her make the transition.

"I didn't really know what to do, I was 17, that was so much to process, I was still in high school," she said.

 
That's why she's lobbying for a new bill that would extend foster care in the state to age 21 for kids who need it. She's been to Tallahassee twice now to talk to legislators about the difference it would make, and it looks like it has a chance.

The proposal shifts money from other foster programs to fund the extended care for kids 18 to 21.  The extension wouldn't cost tax payers any money and Kierra said it just makes sense.

"I don't think you should be thrown out just because you turn a different age," she said.

Kierra is now own her on and in college now to become a social worker to help other kids who were in her shoes.

"Those kids need someone they can trust and who actually has their back," she said.

The bill will be on the floor of the Senate Tuesday for a vote and in the House on Thursday. If it passes, kids who need it would be able to stay in foster care until 21 starting July 1st.

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