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DJJ Adulthood Transition Services Bill Passes House Health Care Services Policy Committee

DJJ priority legislation passes first committee of reference

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Tallahassee -- The Florida House Health Care Services Policy Committee has unanimously passed DJJ’s House Bill 627 (HB 627), sponsored by Rep. Ari Porth (D-Coral Springs), which will help teen-agers who are in the juvenile justice system to learn the necessary life skills for adulthood.

“I thank Representative Ari Porth for spearheading this legislation that will help give these kids the tools they need to become productive citizens,” said DJJ Secretary Frank Peterman, Jr. “Kids in the juvenile justice system often do not have the support systems to teach them the basic life skills that many of us take for granted.”

“Children that have gotten in to trouble with the law still have great opportunity for success as adults, but may need some additional direction to point them on the path toward independence. HB 627 provides a framework for that direction,” stated Porth.

HB 627 will promote the availability of transition services to children age 17 years and older that teach skills like applying and interviewing for a job, finding a place to live and balancing their finances. Familiarity with such basic concepts and skills will increase a young person’s ability to adapt to adulthood as a productive, law-abiding citizen.

Children often age out of DJJ at age 19 with no support network and no one to help them. For these youth to successfully transition to adulthood and avoid homelessness, unemployment, and vulnerability to the pressures that can lead them into a cycle of vagrancy, petty crime and, possibly, the adult correctional system, they need help. This bill captures services for DJJ youth that DCF offers children in foster care. It will support their transition to adulthood, and help them to break juvenile-justice-to-adult-correctional-system cycle.

The DJJ Adulthood Transition Services Bill, sponsored by Rep. Ari Porth (D-Coral Springs), has four referrals in the House. Next, it is will travel to the House Public Safety and Domestic Security Policy Committee. The Senate companion bill, SB 1356, sponsored by Sen. Stephen Wise (R-Jacksonville), has been referred to the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.

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