News & Events
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As Florida continues to position itself to be a leader in education; proper funding for early learning remains an issue. Ensuring children have a strong educational foundation and the opportunity to start school ready for success is critical. In a report, Early Learning Cost Modeling Analysis: Implications for Florida Policy, released by the Early Learning Consortium in partnership with key contributors revealed that Florida’s School Readiness Program has the sixth lowest payment rates in the nation for infants and toddlers and seventh lowest for preschoolers.
Successful reading and learning most often result from partnerships — involving parents, educators, and the public and private institutions that help care for kids. To that end, it’s encouraging that a community-driven effort is endeavoring to make Manatee County part of the Grade Level Reading campaign.
Broward and Palm Beach are among seven Florida counties that created Children’s Services Councils to give underprivileged kids the help they need with reading, behavior management, after-school care, delinquency prevention, family issues, even swimming lessons. Broward and Palm Beach counties would be devastated if these services went away. Many kids wouldn’t have a place to go after school. Foster kids wouldn’t get some of the help they need. Some new moms, including child moms, wouldn’t get the coaching they need to be a good parent.
On Nov. 4, Palm Beach County voters face an important decision: “Shall the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, which provides early learning and reading skills, development, treatment, preventative and other children’s services in Palm Beach County, be reauthorized to continue in existence as a district with voter-approved taxing authority… ?” The Post recommends that all voters enthusiastically say “Yes.”
When we invest wisely in our children, we invest in a brighter tomorrow. If we want a booming economy, we need to put our money where it counts. That means Florida needs to invest more — significantly more — in early learning.
…while the state overall continues to put too little emphasis on the needs of children, there are bright spots in which local communities have demonstrated their concern for children and have been willing to fund programs and projects to address their needs. That is particularly true on the Treasure Coast. In 1988, Martin was the first county on the Treasure Coast to get voter approval for creation of a Children’s Services Council — a local taxing authority with funds directed toward services for children. St. Lucie County followed two years later.
This year, one of United Way of Martin County’s best community partners, the Children’s Services Council of Martin County, is in jeopardy. In November, voters will decide whether to reauthorize the council’s ability to collect tax dollars to fund, oversee and plan programs that have a positive, measurable impact on children and families in our community. I urge everyone to take the time to learn about the council and how it benefits our community, because this referendum is very important to the future of Martin County.
Years ago, I was an elementary schoolteacher. Those years imprinted me with many valuable lessons, the most important of which is that academically successful children from the earliest grades are more likely to enjoy school. This belief is backed up statistically: An overwhelming 74 percent of all students who fail to read proficiently by the end of third grade falter in later grades and often drop out before earning a diploma.
In coming days, Florida Gov. Rick Scott is expected to approve a funding boost to one of Florida’s largest and most popular school voucher programs. Under the legislative spending plan that sits on his desk, the Voluntary Pre-K program would receive a funding boost of about $54 per student for programs offered during the school year. That would be the program’s first increase in six years.
Our county is abuzz with discussion around the importance of mental health. And we at Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County are heartened by the growing recognition of how this issue affects every aspect of our community’s social structure. We also are encouraged that there’s heightened debate around the role that law enforcement, municipalities and schools play in addressing mental health needs in the community.
Fla. Gov. Rick Scott is getting ready his veto pen. The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature on Tuesday formally delivered a record $77 billion budget to Scott’s desk. That starts the clock ticking for the governor. He has until June 4 to decide which spending items included in the budget should be vetoed. But there’s a good chance that Scott won’t wait that long to act.
How can we keep our community’s youth on a positive path toward becoming law-abiding, tax-paying, productive citizens here in Stuart and throughout Martin County? How can we keep our neighborhoods safe? One clear way to achieve these goals is to come together to support our youngest residents, especially those who need it the most. The Stuart Police Department is proud to be a partner in this mission, and our work couldn’t be done without the support of the Children’s Services Council of Martin County.
We are fortunate to live in a place where many want to come seeking a new life, because this country remains The Land of Opportunities, and this region is one of its most desirable for them and their children. By uprooting from their original country, they bring fresh energy and ideas. Children from these families, like all children, are prone to typical pediatric illnesses that, if unchecked, can worsen and even have serious life-long consequences. Prior to 2009, federal law mandated a five year waiting period for legal immigrants — including children and pregnant women — to apply for and receive social service benefits such as Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Today at noon, the Capitol rotunda will begin its annual transformation from a place usually “decorated” by important people in dark suits to one brightened by thousands of tiny paper hands. The “Hanging of the Hands,” which displays cutouts collected throughout the state by Early Learning Coalitions, announces the start of Children’s Week. It might be only one week, but it tells lawmakers that children are something with which we all should be concerned 52 weeks of the year.