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:
CURRENT LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
Financial Stability – The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
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 potential tax credits are being “left on the table” in Washington instead of providing much needed asset growth, financial stability, and economic stimulation to thousands of families in Florida. The 2017 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 $30 million in tax refunds, reducing the 1.1 billion in EITC credits being left in Washington every year.
More information: EITC Financial Stability 2017
Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Promotion, Intervention and Treatment
Many adult issues, including chronic diseases, substance dependency, depression, and other mental health conditions are now understood as disorders that began by experiencing trauma and toxic stress in early childhood and can be reduced by the promotion of infant mental health (IMH). Funding allotted to IMH will aid infants and children at significant risk of developing mental illness through special programs, continued research development, and treatment from licensed mental health professionals. Incorporating an infant mental health approach of “promotion, prevention and treatment” into all the systems that serve young children offers the greatest opportunity for “hard wiring” lifelong mental health.
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 to allocate state mental health programs to address parental depression among vulnerable families; leverage federal and state funding to develop a comprehensive strategy for early childhood depression; and invest in education and training to ensure a qualified infant mental health work force is available to meet the state’s needs.
More information: 2017 Postpartum Depression One Pager
Quality early learning programs improve language skills and help reduce the achievement gap to increase kindergarten readiness and early grade success. Due to lack of sufficient funding, children in Florida are not benefiting from the fruit of such programs. An annual increased investment of $85 million through expansion of the state’s Early Learning Performance Based Incentive funding will create parity between payment rates and implementation of quality benchmarks. The proposed legislative change and appropriation would help create system of comprehensive early learning and accountability evident in improved teaching practices and workforce stability.
More information: 2017 Early Learning One Pager
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. Florida’s child welfare system has seen a spike in maltreatment in the last decade. The ultimate goal of Early Childhood Courts is to integrate systems of care around the needs of children under age three who are in state’s custody and to fulfill the legal mandate of realizing the best interests of those children. Unfortunately, this system is cumbersome and not effectively serving the children in Florida. By sectioning the Early Childhood Courts (ECC’s) into Early Childhood Court teams, children can be helped more quickly and attentively. Florida’s Early Childhood Court Teams are a promising alternative to the current systems and have better outcomes in three critical areas: reduced time to permanency, reduced recurrence of maltreatment, and improved child well-being for children from birth to five and their families. The funding requested will expand implementation of Florida’s Early Childhood court teams statewide to improve child and family outcomes in the dependency system.
More information: 2017 Child Maltreatment One Pager