FIRST 1000 DAYS FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE NEWSLETTER – WEEK 3
While the human brain continues to develop and change throughout life, the most rapid period of brain growth and its period of highest plasticity is in the last trimester of pregnancy and the first two years of life. This critical window in the first 1000 days during which 80 percent of the brain is developed sets the foundation for the child’s health throughout life.
Week 3 of the Legislative Session coincided with Children’s Week which brought an opportunity for advocates, community leaders and providers to visit the Capitol and participate in various child related events. Dr Wil Blechman a rheumatologist who developed a major interest in children’s issues as a result of his work with Kiwanis was the recipient of the 2018 Chiles Advocacy Award. The Children and Youth Cabinet also held its quarterly meeting, and a press conference highlighting its top 3 priorities:
- Continued focus on prenatal to age 3 with additional focus on School Readiness, children living in poverty, mental health and substance abuse issues.
- Children living in high poverty areas; addressing children in poverty; safe and affordable housing.
- Mental Health & Substance Abuse; this includes teens with significant behavioral/mental health issues.
In addition, Budget Subcommittees unveiled their respective budgets to be heard by the full Appropriations Committees this coming Wednesday. These budget proposals include modest increases for School Readiness and an increase for Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) funding in the Senate. However, there is no funding for United Way’s $1.2 million request to assist 31,000 ALICE families secure more than $45 million in federal income tax returns.
Several bills of importance to The First 1000 Days were heard during Week 3.
2018 Legislative Priorities
CS/HB 1091: Early Learning, sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, (R-Vero Beach) requires the Office of Early Learning to adopt program accountability measures, including a School Readiness provider program assessment of teacher-child interactions. The intent of this assessment is to begin to eliminate the lowest performing providers and establish a baseline for improvement and performance-based reimbursement. An appropriation of $5.9 million federal trust fund dollars will pay for these baseline assessments. HB 1091 was reported favorably by the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee on January 23.The companion bill, SB 1254 by Sen. Passidomo (R-Naples) will be heard in the Education Committee on Monday, January 29, 2018.
A bill relating to Early Learning Coalitions, SB 1532, was filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland). The House companion, HB 1175 by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Eustis) authorizes an early learning coalition to terminate a contract with School Readiness program providers for a class I health and safety violation. SB 1532 has not yet been referred to committees. HB 1175 was reported favorably in the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee on January 25th and subsequently added to the floor calendar for second reading.
HB 951 by Rep. Jason Fischer
(R-Jacksonville) and the Senate companion SB 1192 by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) require pre- and post-assessment results to be provided to parents within ten days after the administration of the assessment and authorize students determined to be at risk of not attaining performance standards to re enroll in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program. HB 951 was reported favorably by the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee on January 23, 2018 and now heads to the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee. SB 1192 has been referred to three committees.
Maternal Depression & Infant Mental Health
Perinatal mental health refers to a woman’s mental health during pregnancy and the first year after birth. SB 138 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation), Perinatal Mental Health was voted favorably by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services on Wednesday, January 24. The companion to this bill is HB 937 by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami).
These bills are cited as the “Florida Families First Act” and require the Department of Health to create public service announcements to educate the public on perinatal mental health care; and, revise components that are included in the postpartum evaluation and follow-up care provided by birth centers to include a mental health screening and the provision of certain information on postpartum depression.
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 to order to assess potential benefits and the need for further expansion. 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 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, The Florida Children’s Council’s Capitol Connection, and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
Hanging of the Hands, 2018 Children’s Week
The Hanging of the Hands
Children’s Week brings together more than 5,000 children, parents, advocates, teachers, and communities to the Florida Capitol each year to celebrate children and families and highlight the critical issues they face. The event seeks to educate and elevate the diverse needs of Florida’s children to the state’s leaders. The most celebrated occasion is the hanging of the hands made by pre-k and elementary school children across Florida in the rotunda of the Capitol.
Federal Advocacy Priorities
Two federal programs – the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and the Maternal, Infant & Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) initiative – provide critical resources for Florida’s children and their families during the First 1000 Days. Authorization for both of these programs ended September 30, 2017.
However, a bipartisan group of senators worked successfully to secure a six-year reauthorization of CHIP that was signed into law on Monday, January 22nd.
The First 1000 Days Florida Coalition urges Congress to take immediate action to reauthorize the MIECHV program that is continuing with short term funding.
HM (House Memorial) 817 by Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) is a memorial to the Congress of the United States imploring the renewal of the Title IV-E Waivers for child welfare services. Florida is one of 26 states that have approved agreements with the federal government for the administration of child welfare services.
Florida’s variance permits it to use funds for services beyond out-of-home care this removes the financial incentive to remove a child when it may not be the appropriate action. HM 817 was reported favorably by the House Government Accountability Committee on January 24, 2018, it awaits consideration by the full chamber.
2018 First 1000 Days Florida Summit September 26-28 in Palm Beach
Mark your calendar and plan to be a part of Florida’s premiere multi-disciplinary, cross-sector summit focusing on child health and well-being, prevention of abuse and neglect, trauma-informed care, early child development and school readiness during the critical first 1000 days of life.
The 2018 First 1000 Days Florida Summit will be held September 26-28 at the Palm Beach Convention Center.
The 2018 summit includes six plenary sessions featuring national experts and thought-leaders, and over 40 educational and skill-building workshops for professionals and programs serving families with children age 0-3.
Conference registration will open in February, 2018. Marquee sponsors for the 2018 event are the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County and the Florida Maternal, Infant & Early Childhood Home Visiting Initiative.
The 2018 summit will also include a Poster Showcase highlighting innovative front-line programs and practices from the field. Watch for the Call for Abstracts in February.
Learn more about sponsorship and vendor opportunities here
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