The “battleground” state of Florida has all eyes focused on the pending November election. Although the media circus surrounding the contest has created an environment where it’s hard to see anything else, the non-partisan Children’s Campaign has kept its focus on the “what” of policy rather than “who” will be the policy leaders of tomorrow. As it has after every election cycle, when the spectacle has run its course, The Children’s Campaign is dedicated to ensuring that proven research and the best interests of children are included in the coming year’s policy discussions and decisions.
To support that important work, the Campaign is pleased to announce its 2017 Legislative Agenda: Strategically Invest in Our Children. Highlights include:
- Support Victims of Sex Trafficking- Sexually exploited and trafficked children and young adults need multiple levels of services and treatment. The goal of the Open Doors pilot program is to improve direct victim assistance while coordinating existing services to increase service utilization and improve delivery. The Children’s Campaign supports appropriations in recurring funding to continue existing services and set the stage for expansion as needed.
- Strengthen Child Welfare Reform– The Children’s Campaign has spent the summer drafting a proposal to address the many policy and appropriations issues still compromising the safety, protection and permanency of Florida’s most vulnerable children, inclusive of behavioral health. The Campaign has worked with multiple child welfare partners about the best first steps toward an overarching change. The Children’s Campaign supports positive child welfare reform moving towards the creation of a child welfare blueprint for the system.
- Continue Proven Services for Reducing Girls’ Deep-End Involvement in the Juvenile Justice System– Girls Matters: Continuity of Care is a proven model in NE Florida to increase access to therapeutic services and advocacy within a continuity of care for girls who are on probation, in detention, in residential placement or transitioning back to the local community. The Children’s Campaign supports the allocation of recurring funding for this proven program and its replication in at least one additional circuit.
- Expand the Use of Civil Citations- An arrest can have lifelong, harmful consequences and increases the chances that a child will re-offend in the future. Punishing children for youthful misbehavior stresses the resources of the system and results in poor outcomes when compared to civil citation. The Children’s Campaign supports law enforcement discretion in juvenile civil citations while requiring officers to provide written documentation and receive supervisory agreement for juvenile arrests eligible for civil citations.
- Provide Services for Developmentally-Challenged Girls- Few specialized services exist to address the needs of developmentally-challenged girls in the juvenile justice system and girls presenting with these characteristics do not have community based or residential programs designed to meet their needs. The Children’s Campaign supports the implementation of specialized services for these girls.
- Ensure Quality for Children in Out-of-Home Care– The Children’s Campaign supports an immediate change in policy toward investment in quality, rather than quantity for out-of-home care and early learning funding. Licensing standards, health and safety regulations must not be weakened.
- Expand Early Steps- The critical program designed to reach children with and at-risk of developmental disabilities received additional funding in 2016, but the impact has yet to be analyzed. The Children’s Campaign will be watching the upcoming implementation and program reviews to identify needs and continue supporting the program for children who are at-risk.
- Reduce the Number of Children Tried as Adults- Changing this practice could reduce Florida’s top ranking as the state that transfers more children to adult court. Most of these children are charged with non-violent felony offenses, primarily property and drug crimes, or misdemeanors. Youth sent to the adult criminal justice system are 34 percent more likely to be re-arrested for felonies, than youth who had been retained in the juvenile justice system. The Children’s Campaigns supports amending the practice of giving state attorneys’ sole discretion in deciding whether to try a child as an adult and elevating judicial review for children eligible to be transferred to adult court.
For a full listing of other issues on the radar of The Children’s Campaign, please visit our Key Issues Page on the Take Action Center.
Online Tools Available to Support The Campaign’s Legislative Agenda
The Children’s Campaign is pleased to announce our updated 2017 Take Action Center. This online tool provides information on key children’s issues, action alerts, research reports and more all in one place.
What to Expect from Legislative Connection
Legislative Connection is a publication from The Children’s Campaign that aims to provide politically aware citizens and leaders with up-to-date information about the impact of the policy making process on Florida’s children. This is the first Legislative Connection of this season.
There will be one more edition of Legislative Connection before the end of the year that will publish around scheduled Interim Committee weeks (December 5-9 for House of Representatives and December 12-16 for Senate).
In 2017, there will be two editions published in January (Interim Committee weeks scheduled for January 9-13, 23-27), and two in February as the House and Senate finish their last week of committees (February 6-10, 13-17, 20-24).
Regular Legislative Session will begin on March 7, 2017. During session, there will be two versions of Legislative Connection: a longer narrative that explores children’s issues and session activities in-depth (opening, mid-session and wrap up following sine die) and brief weekly updates to keep readers up to date on what is happening at the Capitol.
Stay current on issues involving children by signing up to receive Legislative Connection in your inbox. You may also follow The Children’s Campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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This Legislative Connection is brought to you by Amanda Ostrander, Nicki Harrison, Karen Bonsignori and Roy Miller
With online support from Tiffany McGlinchey