Initiatives

Campaign for Grade Level Reading

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The Florida Children’s Council serves as Florida’s state network lead for the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. In the fall of 2013, the Council was approached by national campaign to serve alongside other states in an effort to elevate local Grade Level Reading campaigns across the nation.  As the lead organization, the Council works closely with local, state and national experts on ways to support local initiatives and develop strategies to expand the work.

Local Florida campaigns are established in Brevard County, Broward County, Delray Beach, Gainesville, Hillsborough County, Indian River County, Jacksonville, Manatee County, Martin County, Miami-Dade County, Orlando/Orange County, Palm Beach County, Pinellas County, Sarasota County, St. Lucie County, Suncoast (Manatee & Sarasota) and Tallahassee. Through the collective impact of the national campaign, local campaigns, business leaders, and funders, our statewide movement will help promote school readiness, combat chronic absenteeism, improve summer learning and engage parents as their children’s first teachers.

Through generous funding provided by the Helios Education Foundation (2015-2021), the Florida GLR Campaign is focused on developing infrastructure to sustain GLR efforts statewide through networks anchored in the tenants of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading (School Readiness, Summer Learning & Attendance):

1) Network of Community Leaders—a learning community to share best practices, focus on outcomes, and align efforts. The work and associated outcomes will be used as demonstration efforts of what can and should be accomplished statewide;

2) Early Childhood Policy Thought Leaders—working from analysis on current state investments, child development research, proven system development strategies, and community efforts early childhood experts have develop a platform for systemic change that is focused on improved child and family outcomes;

3) Florida Business Leaders Alliance—in partnership with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the business sector will work to increase the prominence, funding, and understanding of critical early childhood initiatives; and

By anchoring this work in the Grade Level Reading framework, we will organize existing efforts and expand the work to improve coordination and alignment of work and make significant progress on grade level reading outcomes for children.  Although each Florida GLR community is as unique as the community it serves, the shared vision for all Florida’s children to read proficiently by third grade is the priority for all.  Please join us in our collective effort to bring attention to the importance of grade level reading!

For more information on Florida’s Grade Level Reading Campaign, visit www.FloridaGLR.net, or contact Jenn Faber, Director of Grade Level Reading at jfaber@floridacsc.org or 239-432-0051.

Florida Afterschool Network

The Florida Afterschool Network (FAN) is composed of stakeholders statewide who recognize the crucial importance of accessible and affordable quality afterschool programs for children and youth. These stakeholders include state and community leaders, education experts, business and workforce entities, service providers and parents. Ensuring that Florida’s children and youth have opportunities to participate in engaging, safe and quality programs during out-of-school hours benefits the economy, provides access to opportunities to expand student knowledge and provides enrichment activities.

FAN’s mission is to provide unified leadership to advocate for the development, enhancement, sustainability and accessibility of evidenced-based high quality afterschool and summer programs and policies statewide. Through generous funding provided by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, FAN has created the following specific goals to carry out its mission:

  • Establish collaborative public and private partnerships which connect local, state and national resources supporting afterschool and summer programs;
  • Promote quality afterschool standards that inform program decisions and public awareness; and
  • Advocate for policies that expand funding, quality improvement initiatives and accessibility of afterschool and summer programs

FAN works with members and numerous other partners around the state to improve focus and alignment of work and ultimately increase student outcomes.

As FAN works to strategically support afterschool statewide and in individual communities, work priorities and intentional focus include:

  • Partnership with the National Conference of State Legislators to develop a data repository that identifies the landscape of afterschool providers by county. FAN is in the process of developing protocols to collect information on program types, capacity, resources and needs. This repository will be made available to FAN members to help strategically focus and build a policy agenda for the 2019 legislative session, as well as inform community leaders, stakeholders and policymakers on the current landscape of afterschool and summer programs in Florida.
  • Development of a customizable toolkit that communities can use to articulate the impact and importance of high-quality afterschool programming.
  • Plans to work with partners and host community town hall meetings. The town halls will support the convening of business and community leaders in an effort to engage communities in a dialogue of afterschool’s impact to the economy, crime prevention, student success, and career readiness. Engagement of local county and city officials, school districts, law enforcement, local PTA organizations, legislators, FAN members and partners, subject matter experts and other relevant partners will provide a strong forum for prioritizing afterschool programming, investments and public policy.
  • Quality as a pinnacle priority resulting in the creation of a committee of afterschool experts, practitioners, and funders to revise the FAN Quality Standards for Afterschool Programs to ensure optimal implementation, develop a measure of fidelity, and increase usage by afterschool providers.
  • STEM programming through engagement of STEM Hubs as well as providing access to middle school age afterschool programs to write code and control satellites inside the International Space Station and to compete against other states.

Through collective effort, FAN works with the Florida Children’s Council, the Florida Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and numerous other partners around the state to improve focus and alignment of work and ultimately increase student outcomes. For more information about the Florida Afterschool Network, visit www.myfan.org or contact FAN Director, Brian Hickey, at bhickey@floridacsc.org.

2GEN

There is growing recognition in Florida that systemic approaches are needed to simultaneously address the needs of both families and children in poverty. This is known as the two-generational approach, or 2Gen. The Florida Children’s Council is dedicated to working with strategic leadership and partners on the 2Gen approach to identify more effective policies to improve economic stability and strengthen outcomes for children and families in poverty.

Research is clear that poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being. Risks are greatest for children who experience poverty when they are young and/or experience deep and persistent poverty. Poverty greatly impedes children’s ability to learn and contributes to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Poverty also can contribute to poor health and mental health.

Approximately 45% of children in Florida are from low-income households. Most of these children have parents who work, but low wages and unstable employment leave their families struggling to make ends meet. But effective public policies and investments can make a difference.

State Policy Development

With growing recognition of the need for systemic approaches to strengthen resources and supports for families in poverty, coordinated strategies on social system development improvements and reform will be critical to maximize the policy opportunities that will be emerging in the next many years. The Council has expanded work and collaboration with state agency leadership, the Florida Chamber, and other key partners to improve public policies and increase coordination of services that would better support children and families in poverty.

As part of this effort, the Council has conducted analysis of social service policies and identified systemic policy change that better supports the needs of children and families in poverty. Although work support benefits have helped recipients maintain employment and survive on limited incomes, often the programs unintentionally create disincentives for progression along a wage or career path necessary to move a household permanently out of poverty. Through the analysis of current policies for social services, the Council has documented the presence of “cliff effects” for families with young children that challenge the economic stabilization for families in poverty. With social service supports, just as families are on the pathway to economic self-sufficiency, most social services have strict eligibility requirements that limit a family’s ability to achieve financial security and independence.

To best support the development of young children, a two-generational approach is necessary to ensure stability and security for the whole family. As a result, the Council’s recommendations for more effective policies are focused on system integration opportunities and strategies that better coordinate and align supports for children and families in poverty.

Demonstration Communities: Families’ Ascent to Economic Security (FATES)

While intentional, focused work on state policy is needed to increase understanding and knowledge on the opportunities for comprehensive, integrated approaches to social services that better meet the needs of families, there is also need to demonstrate approaches and models not bound by current federal regulations and statutory policies. To advance this work, the Florida Children’s Council received grant funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to first develop and now implement a community model of system integration designed to strengthen supports for families and provide a roadmap for the long-term state and federal policy alignment on poverty. Leadership from Children’s Services Councils, CareerSource, and Early Learning Coalitions are partnering in Broward, Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties to integrate workforce and early learning services that support low-income families.

The FATES alignment strategies have been designed to support two overarching goals: 1) economic security through access to achievable workforce development opportunities that include high-wage/high-demand industry sector career lattices and 2) stronger child outcomes through continuity of quality child care and reduction of toxic stress. Critical to this work is the mitigation of the child care fiscal cliff through a graduated phase out that provides continued financial supports for families at decreasing levels as wages increase. The resulting platform is the centerpiece of innovation to strengthen family outcomes and greatly inform community practices, as well as state and federal policy.

For more information, read the Council’s report – Two Generational Approach: Focused Policies for Improved Outcomes.

2Gen Approach Report 2018

Learn more about our partner The Florida Chamber Foundation.

Click here to see the video of Dr. Birken presenting the 2Gen Report to The Florida Chamber Foundation.