FIRST 1000 DAYS FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE NEWSLETTER – WEEK 8
Nutrition during pregnancy and in the first years of a child’s life provides the essential building blocks for brain development, healthy growth and a strong immune system. In fact, a growing body of scientific evidence shows that the foundations of a person’s lifelong health are largely set during this 1,000 day window. Targeting the important 1,000-day period is one of the best investments that can be made to improve health, nutrition and economic outcomes.
With less than one week to go until the end of the regularly scheduled legislative session, the much awaited budget conference process finally began in earnest on Tuesday to negotiate differences between the House and Senate budgets. Issues that were not resolved by the joint House/Senate Conference Committees were “bumped” to the House and Senate budget chairs (Representative Carlos Trujillo and Senator Rob Bradley) on Friday morning. Issues still not resolved will be bumped on Sunday to Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, with a final product voted on no later than Tuesday if session is to end on time on March 9th.
Despite the initial rosy revenue outlook, the hurricane recovery, need to fund more public school students, measures to address the opioid epidemic, and burgeoning Medicaid needs, lower than expected returns on investments and the Parkland tragedy have now placed significant additional pressure on the budget. It is expected that proposed tax cuts will be reduced, member projects drastically reduced, and additional trust funds, potentially from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund “swept” into general revenue.
Healthy Start Budget Cuts
Meanwhile there was much movement on bills of importance to The First 1000 Days.
2018 Legislative Priorities
When children have the benefit of a high-quality early childhood education, they make cognitive and social gains that prepare them to start school. These foundational skills allow them to build on their learning and knowledge through school and into adulthood. As a result, a child without an early childhood education is 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 40 percent more likely to become a teenage parent, and 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.
CS/CS/HB 1091 by Rep. Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach) which defines early learning program quality and establishes accountability measures continued on a fast track and passed the House this week on a 114-0 vote. The Senate companion, CS/SB 1254 Early Learning (Passidomo, R-Naples) was reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee, its last committee of reference, on March 2nd and is expected to be scheduled for a floor vote early next week.The bills also restore local flexibility in determining eligibility so that early learning coalitions can prioritize children at greatest risk of school failure
SB 1532, by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and its House companion,HB 1175 by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Eustis) authorize an early learning coalition to terminate a contract with School Readiness program providers for a Class I Health and Safety Violation. SB 1532 was passed by the Appropriations Committee on March 2nd, and placed on the calendar on 2nd reading. HB 1175 was passed by the House in February and received by the Senate.
Maternal Depression and Infant Mental Health
More than half of mothers in the state report experiencing postpartum depression after childbirth. The prevalence of depression is higher among mothers who are younger or older, black, low-income, single, with Medicaid or an unintended pregnancy. Less than 10 percent of mothers who experienced postpartum depression sought professional help. Depression also affects 10-14 percent of fathers. Parental depression and family factors that contribute to it—intimate partner violence, trauma, stress, poor birth outcomes and infant mortality —compromise the nurturing relationships that are key to healthy child development.
SB 138 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation), Perinatal Mental Health was amended and placed on the calendar on second reading on March 1st. The companion to this bill, HB 937 by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami) requires that the Department of Health offer perinatal mental health care information through the Family Health toll-free hotline accessible to the general public and that birth centers include a mental health screening, as well as the provision of certain information on postpartum depression. HB 937 was approved unanimously on third reading on March 1st, and it is now in messages to the Senate.
Improving Outcomes for Maltreated Children
While the first 1,000 days of life offer the most opportunity for development, it is also the most vulnerable time for maltreatment. Consequently, The First 1000 Days Coalition supports funding to invest in Florida’s Early Childhood Court (ECC) program in order to assess potential benefits and the need for further expansion. ECC addresses child welfare cases involving children under the age of three. It is a problem-solving court where legal, societal, and individual problems intersect. ECCs provide monthly hearings in front of a judge; team meetings facilitated by a community coordinator to fast track integrated services; and intensive child/parent therapy to heal trauma and break the multigenerational cycle of abuse. Florida is currently serving 334 children across the 19 ECC sites throughout the state.
SB 1442 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) and HB 1351 by Rep. Bobby Payne (R-Palatka) establish the Early Childhood Court in statute and provide resources for supporting the program. The legislation would also require the Florida State University Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy to hire a statewide clinical consultant and assemble a clinical oversight team. The proposed policy includes provisions for the Florida Institute for Child Welfare to conduct an evaluation of the program’s impact in consultation with the Department of Children and Families, the office, the center, and a specified organization.
Sources: United Way’s Legislative Link, and The Florida Children’s Council’s Capitol Connection.
2018 First 1000 Days Florida Summit September 26-28 in Palm Beach
Registration is open for 2018 First 1000 Days Florida Summit September 26-28 at the Palm Beach Convention Center! The summit features national, state and community experts on health, social and early learning strategies for supporting families with children age 0-3.
Keynote speakers for the cross-sector, multi-disciplinary event include: Sara Enos Watamura, director of the Child Health & Development Lab and co-director of the Stress, Early Experience and Development Research Center at the University of Denver; Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Temple University and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; and Kate Rosenblum, director of the Women and Infants Mental Health Program at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan.
The summit will feature more than 40 workshops, as well as a Showcase of Best Practices featuring innovative community initiatives.
Check out the conference website to register or find out how to submit a poster abstract. Registration fee is $150.
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