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Part Two: Does Florida’s Child Welfare Need a Roadmap?

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Although there’s no shortage of plans and ideas for improving Florida’s child welfare system, the trouble is there’s too many of them. Sometimes, the ideas even compete with each other or lack adequate evidence-based validation. In addition, there’s little consensus on a proactive way forward. The result? Florida’s child welfare system fails far too many kids, far too often. Over the years, and often in reaction to high profile crises, Florida’s child protection reforms have swung between two general approaches – family preservation, even if it means...

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The Elephant in Florida’s Child Welfare

In a well-known fable, six blind people develop drastically different “views” of an elephant, comparing it to a wall, snake, spear, tree, fan or rope, depending on which body part they touched.  Similarly, there are differing views on how to ensure the safety and well-being of Florida’s children and further transform the state’s child welfare system. Whether Florida’s child welfare reform is making headway, still struggling or needs a complete overhaul depends on with whom you speak and what data you view.  It also helps to understand the past. Once Considered a National Embarrassment Just twenty years ago, Florida’s foster...

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Once Again, Pre-K Funding has Stalled

Although it may sound different, especially after reading some legislative updates from interest groups out of Tallahassee, Pre-K funding has stalled for the third year in a row, according to a new, credible media report. Looking at the numbers, The Children’s Campaign agrees. Here’s why: According to an analysis completed by Orlando Sentinel reporter Leslie Postal, Florida’s $2,437 per-pupil funding for Pre-K in 2016 is actually the same amount per-child as provided in the state budgets for 2014 and 2015.  It’s also $63 less per-student than what was funded in the 2005 – 2006 school year, and only roughly half...

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2016 has become the Year of the Child

Session delivers positive results While the Chinese zodiac may recognize 2016 as the year of the Monkey, it has become the year of the child, thanks to a productive legislative session in Florida.  More victories were achieved than anyone thought possible, exceeding the most optimistic views held at the start of session.  Child advocates like The Children’s Campaign and our partner organizations and individuals work diligently year-round to bring forward positive changes for kids during the 60-day window comprising Florida’s policy making season. Currently, several priority bills benefitting children have already been signed into law, and some are still awaiting...

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A Banner Year for Children?

Leadership is huddling about budget issues which heralds the end of session quickly approaching. How will the story of the final week read? Will the bills that have made it all the way through the process just need to pass the finish line be successful? Will legislators come to an agreement on the hot button budget issues before the white handkerchief drops? There is potential for this to be a banner year for children. Already, good children’s bills have completed the legislative process and are being presented to the Governor: expunction and confidentiality of juvenile records, removing the ability to...

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Final Days for Children’s Issues

Nine days remain in the 2016 Session.  Tension is growing over major unresolved budget issues – especially education – and disagreement between the two chambers and the governor’s office over his tax cut and economic incentives plans.  Scott received $400 million of his tax cut plan – he requested $1 billion – and at this time none of his $250 million economic plan.  Children’s policy issues and appropriations are moving forward, hoping not to get caught in the crossfire. Budget conferences started this past weekend and while some issues were quickly resolved, almost all education funding including VPK, school readiness...

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New Law Offers Kids Earlier Fresh Start

There aren’t many kids who pass through childhood without pulling a juvenile prank like toilet papering a house or throwing a water balloon at a passing car. A generation ago, Florida kids caught performing such acts would have been brought to the attention of their parents, rather than the juvenile justice system. Today, it’s a different story. What happens in juvenile court doesn’t always stay in juvenile court. As a result, thousands of Florida young people have had the stigma of their juvenile record dog them well into adulthood. The Children’s Campaign has heard from many of these individuals, and...

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Warning Labels Campaign Wins Big for Florida’s Children

Developed by The Children’s Campaign in partnership with The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, a series of public education posters and ads recently won three Gold ADDY awards and the prestigious Judge’s Choice Public Service Award at the 4th District Ad Federation 2016 Awards Ceremony. The Warning Labels public education campaign portrayed close-up images of children with warning labels affixed to their foreheads, conveying action-oriented messages to launch an Open Doors service network for sex-trafficked children, as well give kids with juvenile records greater chances to  pursue jobs or education opportunities. Highest award for creative excellence The ADDY Awards are...

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Children’s Bills Positioned to Reach Finish Line

The budget bills of the two chambers are on their way to conference committee to iron out the differences, expected to start mid-week.  This signals that legislative session is coming to a close, for all practical purposes most of a year in length due to many factors.  We will know soon how children fare in final appropriations as the House and Senate reconcile their now 750-million dollar gap regarding the governor’s tax cut proposal.  That’s a tall order.  Some services will survive and some will not.  Children’s policy bills continue to move along on their own path, the finish line...

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Up, Down, Up – Mid-Session In-Depth

Will Remainder Be Good for Kids? Up.  Down.  Up.  These three words accurately portray the mood of the 2016 legislative session to date. The first “up” was the pre-session forecast that as much as  $1.5 billion in additional general revenue would be available.  Child advocates had hoped funds would be earmarked for the growing and unmet needs of Florida children, as well as to restore cuts dating back to the recession.  No one was giddy about the possibilities.  Florida isn’t the easiest place to secure funding for children’s services.  But hope reigns eternal. There’s talk among program administrators at high levels...

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