The Florida Children’s Council works throughout the year to ensure issues impacting children, youth and families stay at the forefront of conversations occurring in the capital city. Working in concert with individual Children’s Services Councils and partner advocacy organizations, Council leadership stays connected with Florida’s executive and legislative branches to share information about more effective policies that result in positive returns for communities and the state when wise, proven investments are made in early childhood development, health, juvenile welfare and parent empowerment programs.
Effective Public Policies Benefiting Children, Youth and Families
GOAL: The Florida Children’s Council supports effective prevention and early intervention policies and investments that minimize families’ long-term dependence on government services.
TWO-GENERATIONAL STRATEGIES FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
Develop more effective policies for families with young children in poverty by aligning targeted social services that support children’s development with workforce development services to increase family economic self-sufficiency.
Eliminate fiscal cliffs that exist in subsidized child care and children’s health insurance programs by establishing graduated phase-outs with increasing fee scales for the recipients aligning with increases in household income.
Integrate Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher programming and other housing initiatives with CareerSource Florida’s workforce development programs to increase accessibility of affordable housing for families with young children in poverty.
EARLY LEARNING AND AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAMS
Maximize early learning investments by including education-based performance standards and a tiered-payment structure for early learning to prepare children for school success, to enhance the private business model of early learning, and to ensure accountability of public funds.
Provide quality School Readiness educational, enrichment programs for children of low-income working families, birth-12, in early learning and school-age care to support stronger student outcomes including grade level reading proficiency—an important indicator of later school success and high school graduation.
Maximize out-of-school time investments for K-12 students to foster grade promotion, graduation, and college and career preparedness.
Include differential-rate contracts with high quality early learning programs in high-poverty areas to increase family access to quality early learning programs.
Increase access for families to community resources through Help Me Grow to support the healthy development of young children.
Align increased investments in Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program for four-year-olds to quality benchmarks to improve kindergarten readiness and later school success.
Revise eligibility requirements for early learning to allow communities the flexibility to determine eligibility prioritization based on community need.
Streamline duplicative background screenings for personnel subject to public school and clearinghouse requirements.
Reduce the number of children served in costly emergency care and improve health outcomes by providing increased access to preventative physical, oral and behavioral health care for all eligible children through Florida KidCare.
Revise the eligibility requirements and parent fee structure in Florida KidCare to ensure continued access to preventative health care services.
Reduce infant mortality and disparities in birth outcomes by increasing the capacity of Healthy Start to serve families at highest risk, including those experiencing perinatal depression, substance use and intimate partner violence.
Support the healthy development of infants and young children by making trauma-informed care services accessible as needed, including services for substance-exposed newborns, and supports related to maternal/paternal depression, and substance abuse.
Facilitate increased access to quality oral health care targeting children served by KidCare and Medicaid.
CHILDREN WITH UNIQUE ABILITIES
Maximize the impact of intervention services and reduce more costly treatments for older children by managing caseloads and adequately serving infants and toddlers with significant delays or with pre-existing conditions in the Early Steps program.
Implement universal developmental screening and improve the process for referrals to the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) for comprehensive assessment and access to appropriate interventions to optimize investments supporting children’s healthy development.
Streamline the transition between Part C and Part B services to ensure families can navigate the changes between infant and toddler services offered through the Department of Health and preschool services offered through the Department of Education.
Ensure that children with unique abilities in state custody receive priority status from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.
Coordinate services and increase accessibility to preventative evidence-based substance abuse and mental health programs such as Community Action Teams (CATs) for children and families to decrease the incidence of child abuse and neglect; as well as maximize investments capable of disrupting existing cycles of substance abuse that contribute to generational and hereditary addiction.
Develop a network of high quality early learning programs with practitioners trained in trauma informed care for children in foster care with dedicated revenue.
Support young adults who are leaving foster care and are transitioning to independence.
Ensure that children who have been abused and/or neglected are provided with safe, stable and permanent homes.
Support the establishment and expansion of evidence-based programs that promote early intervention and safe, but expedited, permanency for the child such as Early Childhood Court.
Maximize investments in youth through evidence-based prevention and diversion programs including those for Juvenile Assessment Centers (JACs) in areas of high utilization, Children in Need of Services/Families in Need of Services (CINS/FINS), multi-dimensional and functional family therapy, and effective girls’ and boys’ programs.
Reduce the number of children held in detention through increased access to evidence-based diversion programs and promote increased opportunities for career and technical education in the juvenile justice system.
Reduce the direct file of youth into Florida’s adult prison system, especially for youth who commit non-violent crimes.
Permit state attorney discretion on filing charges against juveniles who receive concurrent civil citations rather than mandatory filing requirements.
Maximize investments for evidence-based youth mentoring programs to improve youth outcomes and ultimately reduce youth violence.
Maintain the ability for local communities to determine the best use of resources to develop, implement and administer programs that address the needs of children and families.
Support evidence-based policies and programs to ensure healthy, educated children, stable families, and safe and supportive communities.
Ensure equitable funding for programs affecting children and families that are adequate and respect regional economic differences.
Maximize all available revenue streams for strategies that support child development and economic stabilization.
Minimize requirements and regulations to local government or community services that impede upon ability to provide service to the community.
Support programs that promote family engagement.
Ensure the health, safety and well-being of children in all publicly funded programs.
Support programs that promote the ability for families to continue toward economic self-sufficiency without losing access to services that support children’s development.