Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill that will aid foster kids and parents

(WPLG)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference on Tuesday morning at Miami Dade College where Lt Gov. Jeanette Nuñez was also present.

The conference brought attention to Senate Bill 7034, Child Welfare.

The Florida Senate passed the bill by the Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs, chaired by Senator Ileana Garcia.

Building on reforms passed during the 2021 Legislative Session to increase protections and consistency for children in out-of-home care and address critical gaps in investigations and information transparency, the bill expands benefits for foster families and relatives willing to take on the responsibility of raising children who cannot live with their parents.

DeSantis received the bill from the Florida Legislature and, on Tuesday, he signed it into law.

“We are making a difference here today with foster and adoption,” DeSantis said.

The bill will focus on enhancing benefits for relative caregivers, increasing child care subsidy and expanding college tuition waivers.

The monthly payment amount for relatives and nonrelatives who have children placed with them in out-of-home care will now have the same rate as licensed foster parents.

The bill will also provide a $200 per month subsidy to any foster parents, relative and nonrelative caregivers who have a child placed in their home between the ages of birth to school entry, intended to help defray the cost of an early learning or child care program.

Lastly, the bill will expand the scope of potential students eligible for a tuition and fee exemption at a workforce education program, or a Florida college or university to include certain students who have been the subject of a shelter, dependency or termination of parental rights proceeding.

“Every kid counts and we got to do what we can as a state,” DeSantis said. “This is an important issue. These are not always easy issues to deal with.”