FIRST 1000 DAYS FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE NEWSLETTER – WEEK 6+
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 three weeks left to go until the conclusion of the 2018 legislative session, the conference process to iron out the differences is expected to start soon. The Senate Appropriations Bill, SB 2500 and, the House Bill, HB 5001 are only $100 million apart, but contain large differences in priorities between the chambers. Additionally, as the legislative session winds down, the window for committee meetings in both chambers is drawing to a close. Both budgets contain increases for the School Readiness and Voluntary Pre-K programs. However, only the Senate budget proposes an increase per child for the VPK program.
Several Early Learning bills of importance to The First 1000 Days continued to move forward during Week 6.
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.
SB 1254 by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) and its House companion HB 1091 by Rep. Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach) strengthen accountability measures in the School Readiness program, as well as restore local flexibility in determining eligibility so that early learning coalitions can prioritize children at greatest risk of school failure within their communities.
SB 1254 was reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee on February 6th and now heads to Appropriations, its final committee of reference. HB 1091 was voted unanimously by the Education Committee and placed on the calendar on second reading on February 15th.
SB 1532, by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and its 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 was reported favorably by its second committee of reference, the Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education, on February 8th. HB 1175 was amended and passed by the House on a unanimous vote on February 14th.
Maternal Depression and Infant Mental Health
There is a need to build capacity in Florida to identify and address parental depression, as well as provide mental health services to families with young children who have been impacted by trauma and other adverse experiences. Depression, particularly in mothers, has a direct and measureable impact on the health and wellbeing of women and their families, and, if untreated, contributes to long-term health, education and societal costs.
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 is still in Senate Appropriations. The companion to this bill HB 937 by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami) received a Committee Substitute requiring that the Department of Health offer perinatal mental health care information through the Family Health toll-free hotline accessible to the general public. Components that have been revised, include the postpartum evaluation and followup care provided by birth centers to include a mental health screening, and the provision of certain information on postpartum depression. HB 937 was approved by the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on February 14th.
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.
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 to 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.
Federal Advocacy Priorities
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. The bill was voted unanimously by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on February 20.
2018 Bipartisan Budget Act: Good News for Children
The 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act, signed on Friday by President Donald Trump, includes good news for children and vulnerable families! Among key provisions, it reauthorizes and funds the Maternal, Infant & Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program for five years and extends the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for an additional four years providing a decade of stability for uninsured children.
The budget bill, passed in Congress with bipartisan support, also includes a significant boost in funding for the CCDBG program, effectively doubling the program’s discretionary funding and enabling important improvements to child care quality standards. Community Health Centers, a critical source of health care for low-income pregnant women and uninsured families, are also reauthorized and provided with increased funding in the bill.
In addition to these provisions, the expansive budget provides resources for disaster recovery, infrastructure, and the opioid epidemic, extends numerous health and tax provisions, and raises the debt limit.
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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