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New Indiana laws break down barriers for foster children

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

Two new Indiana laws make life a little easier for foster children.

Barriers have been removed for obtaining a driver’s license and obtaining healthcare.

Nancy Klopfenstein is the program manager at KidsPeace in South Bend, a therapeutic foster care agency.

She says she’s seen the good a driver’s license can do for a teen.

“Right now we have a young man, he has his driver’s license, he’s working and he’s going to go to college in the fall. So that’s really a success story,” Klopfenstein said.

Klopfenstein thinks she’s about to see plenty more success stories at her agency thanks to two new Indiana laws.

Senate Bill 366, now a law, takes away the fee from foster children seeking a driver’s license, easing financial difficulties on both the children and foster parents.

“They have the opportunity to drive to work drive to college or whatever they choose to do once they are out of the foster care system,” Klopfenstein

The second new law allows foster children to stay on Medicaid even after they age out of the system, until they reach age 26.

“It’s very important that they’re covered, and again, one less barrier they have to worry about,” Klopfenstein said.

For KidsPeace, this is more than just two barriers being removed.

Klopfenstein says teenage foster children have a very difficult time, with a lack of available foster parents.

“Everybody kind of wants babies but everybody needs love. Everybody needs a home. And everybody needs an opportunity to have that loving home and that support,” Klopfenstein said.

While a loving home is still the ideal goal for each and every teen in the system the two new opportunities make independence a little easier.

“It’s going to give them the ability to learn new skills so that they can make it on their own,” Klopfenstein said.

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