Success is Possible!
The First 1,000 Days Florida Coalition supports the following policy changes to support early child security, health care, safety, and education:
2018 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
Financial Stability – The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is available to low-income working families, and is recognized as one of the best anti-poverty tools in the U.S. However, the IRS has estimated over 17% of eligible taxpayers don’t claim the credits they have earned. This means that $1.1 billion in EITCs are being “left on the table” by working families in Washington each year, instead of providing much needed asset growth, financial stability, and economic stimulation to thousands of families in Florida. The 2018 appropriations request is for the Legislature to invest $1.2 million in state funding to expand the capacity of free tax preparation and financial education programs statewide — helping up to 31,000 working families save $3.3 million in tax preparation fees, and claim over $40 million in tax refunds, reducing the 1.1 billion in tax credits being left in Washington every year.
More information: First 1000 Days FL Financial Stability 2018
Maternal Depression & Infant Mental Health
Depression, particularly in mothers, has a direct and measurable impact on the health and well-being of women and their families. If untreated, the depression contributes to long-term health, education, and societal costs. We advocate for universal screening and support for state mental health programs to address parental depression among vulnerable families; leveraging of federal and state funding to develop a comprehensive strategy for parental and early childhood depression; and investing in education and training to ensure a qualified infant mental health work force is available to meet the state’s needs.
More information: First 1000 Days FL 2018 Maternal Depression & Infant Mental Health
Quality early learning programs improve language skills and help reduce the achievement gap to increase kindergarten readiness and early grade success. There is opportunity to strengthen the School Readiness program with the implementation of quality standards and aligned accountability that includes: 1) a clear definition of quality based on core standards and practices that must be in place to provide assurances of strong teaching practices that best support children’s development; and 2) program outcomes to validate that School Readiness is valuable as an effective early education program. This is accomplished by:
- Adopting minimum quality standards for child care providers contracting with Early Learning Coalitions (ELCs) for School Readiness based on teacher-child interactions.
- Identification of Gold Seal accrediting entities with demonstrable impact on child outcomes.
Improving Outcomes for Maltreated Children in the First 1000 Days of Life
While the first 1,000 days of life offer the most opportunity for development, it is also the most vulnerable time for maltreatment. As of December 2017, more than 12,000 children were under age three when removed from their homes, many of these include the 4000 newborns born addicted to opioids in 2016. Many children are re-abused because the root cause of the family’s issues was not fully addressed. Florida’s Early Childhood Court teams (ECC), fondly called “baby courts” are one of the solutions to Florida’s opioid and child welfare crisis. In the ECC team approach, young children get placed in permanent homes more quickly — whether through adoption or reunification. This is accomplished by monthly hearings in front of a judge monthly as opposed to every six months; 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. Impressive 2016 data demonstrated that children got to a permanent home 112 days faster (almost 4 months) than non ECC children and only 2 were re-abused. In summary, Early Childhood Courts break the multigenerational cycle of maltreatment resulting in fewer families needing state services and more families contributing to Florida’s economy. ECCs generate a positive return on investment for the Florida legislature and taxpayers. The funding requested will expand upon the existing program, assess the potential benefits and determine the benefit of further expansion. ECC funding is supported by Florida’s Children & Youth Cabinet, the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office, the Department of Children and Families, community-based care agencies, foster parents, judges, parent attorneys, state attorneys, sheriff’s offices, Florida State University, the Office of the State Courts Administrator, and Florida’s Infant Mental Health Association Improving Outcomes for Maltreated Children in the First 1000 Days of Life
More information: First 1000 Days FL Early Childhood Courts