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'A new day' for Florida's foster children

4:43 PM, Apr 11, 2013   |    comments
Gov. Rick Scott signs a bill to make it easier for foster children to participate in everyday activities.
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Foster children in Florida have to live by very different rules than a typical kid. They can't just go to the beach with friends without getting approval from the state or they can't join a soccer team without consulting their case manager.

The children, and their foster parents, thought the rules went too far.

That all changed on Thursday. Foster children and their parents gathered at the state Capitol to celebrate legislation that removes many of those unreasonable regulations.

Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, said Florida tried to bubble wrap foster children into a prison of safety and they could not lead normal lives.

"Today is the beginning of a new day. It's the beginning of a new freedom and a new opportunity for kids to be able to live their lives to the maximum like they're supposed to be able to do."

Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill on Thursday. It encourages foster parents to make choices under a new standard called "reasonable and prudent" that will make it easier for children to participate in everyday activities.

"I've heard this bill can be called many different names from the Quality Parenting Act to the Permission to Parent Act. However, I think the right title should be the 'Let Kids be Kids Bill,'" said Scott.

More than 5,000 children are in foster homes across Florida.

First Lady Ann Scott said the parents are heroes who brighten children's lives and the state's future.

"These incredible individuals made the decision to give from their heart to help these children who deserve a chance to laugh, to smile and to dream."

Bill sponsors Rep. Albritton and Sen. Nancy Detert credited children and parents in the foster system for coming up with the idea.

"You don't want the words 'foster care' stamped on your head. You don't want to be a foster care kid. You just want to be a regular kid and this bill will help you do that," said Detert.

The new law takes effect July 1.

Dave Heller

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