FIRST 1000 DAYS FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE NEWSLETTER – WEEK 9
A growing body of scientific evidence shows that the foundations of a person’s lifelong health and success are largely set during this critical first 1000 days’ window of life.
As the 2018 Legislative Session draws to a close, the House and Senate have been busy taking up bills on final passage and begun to debate the budget. By staying over the weekend, they will take a final vote on the budget and adjourn on Sunday, March 11th, still in time to be home next week. The budget will go into effect the beginning of the fiscal year, July 1, 2018.
The budget includes $400 million for school safety and mental health improvements as a result of the tremendous pressure in the wake of the Parkland tragedy. One of the largest single increases was for the state’s proposed emergency response spending, which increased by $1.5 billion.
The budget also includes full funding or an increase in many areas of early learning such as School Readiness, Help Me Grow, Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (TEACH), the Home Instruction Program for Pre-school Youngsters (HIPPY) and more; and the KidCare program which provides reduced/affordable health care to many of Florida’s children was fully funded.
In addition, thanks to the work of many child advocates, proposed cuts to the Healthy Start program which would have eliminated services to 6,600 high-risk pregnant women and infants statewide, as well as dismantle 25 years of local community interventions and services that helped to lower Florida’s infant mortality, were restored.
Several bills of importance to The First 1000 Days have passed the House and Senate or continue on their way to final passage. Help is needed to bring SB 1442 on Early Childhood Courts to the floor for passage. The appropriations issues on the bill have now been resolved.
2018 Legislative Priorities
CS/CS/HB 1091 by Rep. Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach)/CS/SB 1254 Early Learning (Sen. Passidomo, R-Naples) which define early learning program quality and establish accountability measures, was voted on final passage in the Senate and enrolled on March 8th.
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. HB 1175 was passed by the House in February and received by the Senate. SB 1532 is on special order in the Senate awaiting final passage.
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 and its companion, HB 937 by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami) require 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 substituted for CS/SB 138, and passed on March 9th.
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: The Daytona Beach News-Journal and The Tampa Bay Times.
Federal Advocacy Priorities
The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal funding source to provide low income families with child care subsidies and improve child care quality for all children. High-quality child care enables parents to work or attend school and improve their employment outcomes while providing safe, enriching environments for their children to learn and thrive. Congress needs to follow through with the bipartisan budget agreement of a $5.8 billion CCDBG increase over the next two years. The decisions about allocations or how much each subcommittee receives to fund programs under its jurisdiction are still not finalized.
Supporters of child care and early learning are urged to ensure that the Labor Health and Human Services and Education allocation is sufficient to sustain the CCDBG increase included in the budget as well as the highest possible amounts for other early learning programs. It is hoped that Congress is able to complete the FY 2018 process by March 23rd so that states can use the $5.8 billion over two years to help more mothers work, more children have a strong early learning experience and more providers receive the support they need.
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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