As part of Florida's stated mission of "putting families first," Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Tuesday to provide $25 million in additional support for foster parents.
DeSantis praised lawmakers for passing Senate Bill 7034 with no opposition earlier this year. In a statement, DeSantis said, “my administration is committed to supporting our most vulnerable children and Florida has already added 4,000 more licensed foster parents than we did in 2019.”
“Not only does this bill allow us to expand our support for foster parents, but it also creates more opportunities for foster children,” he added. “Including our work on early literacy and fatherhood, Florida is a national leader in setting young children up for success.”
At a signing ceremony at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus Tuesday, DeSantis cited the legislation as an example of the state’s commitment to “the proposition that every life counts." He added: "All these kids deserve an opportunity and we’re going to do what we can to make sure that their dreams and hopes and aspirations can become reality in a loving home.”
Florida Stands with Foster Parents and Kids https://t.co/h7QhcezD4B— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 12, 2022
The bill will allocate $19 million to stipends for relatives or family friends of foster children. It also delegates $25 million to give $200 in monthly payments to foster parents caring for children ages 5 and younger to help with childcare expenses.
“Through this funding, more than 7,000 parents and foster caregivers will receive this subsidy for the children that are in their care,” the governor said.
DeSantis added that the bill also increases the money foster children receive for room and board at state universities and tuition and fee waivers at colleges, universities and workforce programs.
For foster parents taking care of children ranging in age from newborns to 5 years old, the bill increases the monthly stipend for room and board from $457.95 to $517.94. The monthly room and board rates increase from $469.68 to $531.21 for foster parents of children ranging from 6 to 12 years old and from $549.74 to $621.77 for foster parents of children between 13 and 21 years of age.
DeSantis' signing of Senate Bill 7034 came one day after he signed a separate bill into law providing financial incentives to encourage fathers to take an active role in the upbringing of their children, which also received unanimous support from the Florida Legislature.
That legislation authorizes $70 million in funding for mentorship programs for at-risk youth and grants for nonprofit organizations that help fathers meet their obligations.
In a post on social media, DeSantis added: “A commitment to pro-life policy does not end at birth, but shares equal vigor regardless of age, race, religion, or creed.”
While some of the initiatives listed in the graphic in DeSantis' post received unanimous support from the Florida Legislature, the votes on other bills reflected the partisan divide surrounding hot-button issues. Specifically, House Bill 5, a 15-week abortion ban that DeSantis signed into law Thursday, passed the state Legislature on a near party-line vote, with only one Democrat in either chamber joining Republicans in supporting the legislation.
DeSantis is widely considered a candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2024. A straw poll taken at this year’s CPAC, an annual gathering of grassroots conservative activists, found former President Donald Trump leading DeSantis by 59% to 28% in a hypothetical primary matchup. Should Trump decline to run, DeSantis would receive 61% among participants in the straw poll, finishing far ahead of other potential candidates whose support was measured in the single digits.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org