Legislative Affairs

Priority Issues

Printable Version – 2018 Florida Children’s Council State Policy Program

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.

HEALTHY DEVELOPMENT

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.

CHILD PROTECTION

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.

JUVENILE JUSTICE

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.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

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.

 

 

Printable Version – 2017 Florida Children’s Council State Policy Program

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.

EARLY LEARNING AND AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAMS

Maximize early learning investments by including education-based performance standards and a tiered-payment structure for early learning programs 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 mothers and fathers, 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 of mothers and fathers 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.

HEALTHY DEVELOPMENT

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.

Streamline enrollment and reenrollment procedures 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 mothers and fathers 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 infant mental health services accessible as needed, including services for substance-exposed newborns, and supports related to maternal/paternal depression, and substance abuse.

Promote greater access to physician services in underserved neighborhoods through reimbursement for telemedicine in school settings.

Facilitate increased access to quality oral health care for children from low- to moderate- income families.

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 preexisting 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.

Strengthen public policy by eliminating restrictive limitations in Children’s Medical Services (CMS) and by educating families on eligibility for services.

Ensure that children with unique abilities in state custody receive priority status from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

CHILD PROTECTION

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.

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.

JUVENILE JUSTICE

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 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.

STRENGTHENING FAMILIES

Integrate the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework into systems that serve mothers, fathers and children within the early education and care system, home-visiting programs, Head Start programs and Florida’s KidCare Child Health Check-Up Program.

Maximize investments for evidence-based youth mentoring programs to improve youth outcomes and ultimately reduce youth violence.

Provide an exemption from public records requirements for personal identifying information of witnesses to child and youth murders to encourage such witnesses to provide information regarding perpetrators to law enforcement without fear of retaliation.

Provide increased funding for parent preparation, inclusive of fathers receiving prenatal education, and support and paternal wellbeing services.

Promote funding for programs that assist fathers and mothers in raising boys and girls during middle and high school, the years most problematic for parents.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

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 increase the need for taxpayer-funded programs.

Support programs that promote the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children.

Ensure the health, safety and well-being of children in all publicly funded programs.

 

Printable Version – 2016 Florida Children’s Council State Policy Program

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.

EARLY LEARNING AND AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAMS

Congress reauthorized the federal guidelines related to the School Readiness program resulting in an opportunity to address children’s access to quality early learning settings, program standards and benchmarks, payment rates, teacher-preparedness and continuity of care for children and families. Given there will be considerable changes to the early learning system to comply with the new federal guidelines, the Council has prioritized the following public policy priorities:

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 continuity of services for children and families served through School Readiness by eliminating policies and practices that result in disenrollment of families eligible for the program.

PROVIDE School Readiness educational, enrichment programs for children of low-income working families, birth-12, in early learning and school-age care to support children’s readiness for and success in school.

MAXIMIZE out-of-school time investments for K-12 students to foster grade promotion, graduation, and college and career preparedness.

ALIGN family access and benefits of the School Readiness programs and CareerSource workforce development plans with the focused outcome of better employment and economic stabilization.

INCLUDE differential-rate contracts with high quality early learning programs in high-poverty areas to increase family access to quality early learning programs.

SUPPORT teacher preparation in all publicly-funded early learning programs by requiring each lead teacher to have a Child Development Associate degree within five years and by requiring 20 hours of annual professional development.

INCREASE family access 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.

HEALTHY DEVELOPMENT

INCREASE student learning outcomes by targeting child health and well-being through maximized use of state and federal funding for health care coverage for eligible children.

REDUCE the number of children served in costly emergency care and improve health outcomes by providing access to preventative health care for all lawfully-residing, eligible children through Florida KidCare.

STREAMLINE enrollment and reenrollment procedures 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 parents 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 infant mental health services accessible as needed, including services for substance-exposed newborns, and supports related to maternal/paternal depression, and substance abuse.

PROMOTE greater access to physician services in underserved neighborhoods through reimbursement for telemedicine in school settings.

CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

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.

STRENGTHEN public policy by eliminating restrictive limitations in Children’s Medical Services (CMS) and by educating families on eligibility for services.

ENSURE that children with developmental disabilities in state custody receive priority status from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

CHILD PROTECTION

COORDINATE services and increase accessibility to preventative evidence-based substance abuse and mental health programs for children and families to decrease the incidence of child abuse and neglect; as well as maximizing investments capable of disrupting existing cycles of substance abuse that contribute to generational and hereditary addiction.

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.

JUVENILE JUSTICE

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) and effective girls’ programs.

Ensure that juvenile records are not sold for commercial purposes.  Ensure juvenile records are expunged after court review when a juvenile turns 19 or 21 (when juvenile court jurisdiction ends), if the juvenile has no pending juvenile or criminal cases, and is not serving a sentence, thereby removing barriers to higher education, employment, housing and military service.

REDUCE the number of children held in detention through evidence-based diversion programs and promote increased opportunities for career and technical education in the juvenile justice system.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

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 increase the need for taxpayer-funded programs.

SUPPORT programs that promote the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children.

ENSURE the health, safety and well-being of children in all publicly funded programs.

 

 

Printable Version – 2015 Florida Children’s Council State Policy Program

Advancing the Children’s Agenda

Adequately Fund and Improve Early Childhood/Afterschool Programs

PROMOTE increased funding for children birth-12 in early learning and school age care to ensure children’s access to educational, enrichment programs that support working families.  SUPPORT adequate levels of funding per child for Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) to ensure children have the academic, executive and social skills for kindergarten.

AMEND the early learning statute for School Readiness and Voluntary Prekindergarten to include explicit standards for the health, safety and well-being of children in all publicly funded programs.

AMEND the School Readiness statute to establish benchmarks and education based performance standards for early learning to prepare children for school success, enhance the private business model of early learning, and to ensure accountability of public funds.

ENSURE full eligibility of school-age children with adequate funding and quality standards to make certain school-age children participating in School Readiness programs benefit from enriching environments that support grade-level reading.

Access to Health Care

PROVIDE and PRESERVE health insurance coverage for all federally eligible children.  ENSURE all children and parents who are newly eligible for Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are extended coverage under Florida law.

ENSURE access to maternal child health services including continuity of health care coverage for women and infants, services for substance exposed newborns, and supports related to maternal depression, substance abuse, and other mental health services.

Children with Special Needs

PROMOTE increased funding for the Early Steps intervention system that offers services to eligible infants and toddlers with significant delays or pre-existing conditions.

PROMOTE increased funding and coordination of Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) services in order to make sure children receive timely services.

SUPPORT universal developmental screenings, assessments, and access to appropriate interventions.

ENSURE that children with developmental disabilities in state custody continue to receive priority status for services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Supports for Children and Families

PROMOTE increased funding for evidence-based programs to prevent child abuse and neglect.

ADEQUATELY fund Community Based Care programs, adoption subsidies and child protective services. PROVIDE increased state funding for training for case workers and for reduced case loads.

PROMOTE full utilization of Title IV-E Foster Care funding to maximize resources and services for children in the foster care system.

PROMOTE increased funding for kinship care and for young adults leaving foster care through appropriate Road to Independence program support.

Youth Services

PROMOTE prevention and diversion funding, including that for Juvenile Assessment Centers (JACs) in areas of high utilization, and evidence based practices for programs such as Children in Need of Services/Families in Need of Services (CINS/FINS) and effective girls’ programs.

ENSURE that juvenile records are not sold for commercial purposes.  ENSURE juvenile records are automatically expunged when a juvenile turns 19 or 21 (when juvenile court jurisdiction ends), if the juvenile has no pending juvenile or criminal cases, and is not serving a sentence, thereby removing barriers to higher education and employment.

SUPPORT the Department of Juvenile Justice’s recommended Roadmap to System Excellence reforms that reduce the number of children held in detention and promote adequate afterschool programming and increased opportunities for career and technical education in the juvenile justice system.

Guiding Principles

Family Centered/Community Based Programs: PROMOTE the funding of programs and services that are family centered, community-based and proven to work.

Local Flexibility: OPPOSE any effort to impose restrictions on the ability of local communities to determine the use of their local resources to develop, implement and administer programs that address the needs of children and families.

Quality Programming: SUPPORT appropriate levels of funding for evidence-based policies and programs that incorporate best practice models in order to ensure healthy children, stable families and safe and supportive communities.

Adequate & Equitable Funding: SUPPORT funding formulas and streams for programs affecting children and families that are adequate and equitable, and that respect regional economic differences.

Maximizing & Leveraging Revenue: SUPPORT efforts to increase Florida’s revenue streams. ENSURE that available federal, local and private dollars for children’s programs are fully maximized.

Unfunded Mandates: OPPOSE legislation requiring local jurisdictions to perform services or to fund programs not approved by local jurisdictions.

 

2014 Legislative Report

The 2014 Legislative session included for the second year, additional dollars to programs serving children, youth and families.  For a full end-of-session analysis in Capitol Connection, click here.

2013 Legislative Report

The 2013 Legislative session included, for the first time in several years, a more robust state budget.  The revenue forecast was quite healthy and many health and human services programs saw increased funding, click to read our Capitol Connection end-of-session analysis.

2012 Legislative Report

The 2012 Legislative Session included a January start, the drawing of new district maps, uncertainty in the Senate over future leadership positions and a relatively low number of bills passed. For a full report, click to read our Capitol Connection end-of-session analysis.