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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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Good Children’s Bills Move Forward

This week marks the mid-way point of this year’s Session. Attention has shifted to appropriations with each chamber putting their spending plans on the table for all to see. Decisions and priorities are being driven by the push from the Governor’s office to achieve a billion-dollar tax cut and a redo of the revenue forecast. More coverage will be forthcoming. On the policy side, many good children’s bills continue to move forward: expunction of juvenile records, A Child’s Best Hope Act, expanding Early Steps, and KidCare for children of legally residing immigrants.   Bills that have lagged behind in getting...

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Parents Beware: Child Safety Laws are Vulnerable

Recently it seems there has been a rash of efforts to weaken child safety laws. What’s going on? It was just two years ago that Florida passed a law requiring children be secured in crash-tested, federally approved car seats or booster seats until age 6. Although better late than never. Florida was 49th in the nation to pass such a vital law. The legislation took 13 years to pass. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many children’s serious injuries...

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Significant Advances for Children in the Capitol

The third week of regular session – Children’s Week – realized advancements in children’s policy across a range of our priority issues.  Good bills are moving swiftly through the process, bad amendments were removed, legislators have abandoned long-held positions that will improve the lives of legal immigrant children without health care, and Florida’s child care regulatory framework is aligning with federal standards in order for the state to continue to receive much-needed federal dollars. Recent Legislative Action: SB 386 – Juvenile Records Expunction – a bill first envisioned and promoted by The Children’s Campaign – would automatically remove certain juvenile...

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