by Breanna Carpenter
During our Fostering Advocates Arizona Day at the Legislature, I spoke on a panel to an audience of lawmakers. My hope is they will have a better understanding of the struggles and barriers youth in foster care face, especially as it pertains to normalcy, and consider our recommendations for improvement.
Obtaining a driver’s license enables youth who have experienced foster care the chance to have a normal adolescent experience, like those of their non-foster youth peers. Additionally, a driver’s license provides a means of transportation for youth to attend school, maintain employment, and participate in extra-curricular activities. If I didn’t have my driver’s license at the age of 16, I would not have been able to attend my chosen high school, participate in student organizations or maintain employment. All of the above were crucial stepping points in mapping out my future and carrying me to where I am today, a student at Arizona State University.
Although Arizona Senate Bill 1341 does not solve all of the problems relating to normalcy, nor does it grant all foster youth access to a driver’s license, it does begin a conversation around the importance of a driver’s license, and the barriers that youth in foster care must overcome to obtain one. The bill allows us to examine current legislation and determine ways in which we, as a system, can provide the needed skills and training critical to success in adulthood.
In all, we cannot do this alone! I am grateful for the opportunity to act as a voice for my fellow peers in foster care; however, we will need support and more legislative champions to continue this work and to truly impact change.
Breanna Carpenter is a member of Fostering Advocates Arizona Young Learning Adult Leadership Board and is a student at Arizona State University.