By age 2, a baby’s brain has reached 80% of its adult size. The quality of experiences during the first 1,000 days of life establishes either a strong or fragile foundation for everything that follows.
With the opening of the 2018 Florida Legislative Session on January 9 and the 2018 First 1000 Days Florida Summit in September, this newsletter will keep you informed about opportunities to advocate and support state efforts aimed at ensuring children 0-3 get the best possible start in life. Please help us grow our network by sharing this newsletter widely.
First 1000 Days Florida Coalition 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. We are asking 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.
The House sponsor of the appropriations request (HB 4227 – United Way of Florida Financial Literacy and Prosperity Program) is Representative Cyndi Stevenson, R-St. Augustine. The bill will be heard soon in the House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee.
Quality early learning programs improve language skills and help reduce the achievement gap to increase kindergarten readiness and early grade success. We are asking the Legislature 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.
HB 1365 by Rep. Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach) and its companion SB 1822 by Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) require the Office of Early Learning to adopt an observation-based child assessment system and establish the parameters for procurement and implementation of the assessment system. Neither bill has been referred to committees at this time.
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.
Perinatal Mental Health
The Perinatal Mental Health SB 138 by Senator Lauren Book, D-Plantation and HB 937 by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami) cited as the “Florida Families First Act” require the Department of Health to create public service announcements to educate the public on perinatal mental health care; revises 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.
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. We support 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. Both bills have not yet been referred to committees.
Sources: United Way’s Legislative Link and The Florida Children’s Council’s Capitol Connection
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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First 1000 Days Florida
1311 N. Paul Russell Rd #A204
Tallahassee, FL 32301