Legislative Connection

Legislation Supports Young Adults Who Lack Capacity

In 2010, an 18-year-old who had recently “aged-out” of Florida’s foster care system was murdered in a parking lot over a stolen beer. Because he had aged-out of foster care, he was left without a mentor or someone to watch over him, even though he was bipolar, hyperactive, and aggressive with an IQ of 65. Legislation to address this issue that is supported by a multitude of child advocacy organizations, including The Children’s Campaign, will be heard next week in both the House and the Senate. HB 437, sponsored by Representative Adkins (R- Fernandina Beach) and SB 496, sponsored by...

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DCF Secretary Speaks about Child Welfare Transparency

Speaking at the request of Representative Harrell (R-Stuart), Chair of the House Children, Families & Seniors Committee, Mike Carroll, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), discussed transparency in Florida’s child welfare system ― largely focusing on the child fatality website, http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/childfatality. According to Secretary Carroll, Florida has the toughest child abuse and neglect reporting mandates in the country. He stressed that DCF does not believe that there is a “reporting problem” in reviewing child fatalities. The user-friendly website, launched in June 2014, was mandated by last Session’s SB 1666, which aimed at accountability through large-scale reform. The...

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Latest Tragedy Focus of Legislative Attention

  Another missed opportunity to protect a child. Another young life lost too soon. Another discussion about what was missed and where Florida’s child welfare system failed. Another one. Five years of a life riddled with interactions with the state’s child welfare system, parental drug abuse and domestic violence, erratic school interactions, and inadequate food and hygiene was ended when Phoebe Jonchuck’s father, John Jonchuck, Jr., threw her from the Dick Meisner Bridge near the Sunshine Skyway on January 8, 2015. The state first interacted with Phoebe’s family three years ago, while her parents were in domestic violence counseling. That...

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Medicaid: The Health and Nutrition of Florida’s Children

Traditionally, a new year begins with resolutions – ways to make lives healthier, better, more fulfilling – many involve health. People are resolving to eat better, exercise more, visit the doctor regularly, or pay better attention to getting and staying healthy. Health and its impact on Florida’s children is no exception and has been in the spotlight. In the final week of 2014, federal Judge Adalberto Jordan found that Florida did not comply with parts of Medicaid law which led to lack of access to care for many children enrolled in Medicaid. Specifically, the opinion detailed: low reimbursement payments to...

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Push is On for Children’s Issues to Ascend in 2015 Session

With a budget surplus at nearly $1 billion, the November elections delivering few surprises but further consolidating power in the GOP-controlled Legislature, and leadership recently naming committee chairmanships, now becomes more hopeful and important than ever for children’s issues to command top priority in the 2015 session. Committee hearings are currently taking place in January and February in advance of the official start of session on March 3. Meanwhile, The Children’s Campaign is working hard to ensure that the health, education, and safety interests of children are solidly out in front for attention by key committees and placement on priority...

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Questions Continue to Swirl Around Accountability, Effectiveness of Florida’s Child Protection System

  Florida’s child welfare system is once again in the news for failing to protect children when they are at their most vulnerable – and now questions are being raised whether the public has been provided with the full story of how many children die as a result. The Miami Herald reports that there is question whether the number of children who have died due to abuse or neglect in Florida is being properly counted by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). According to the article, the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) investigates children’s deaths under contract with DCF. The...

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Legislative Wrap-Up

Significant progress was made for children in Florida during the 2014 legislative session.  Twelve bills that The Children’s Campaign supported were passed. Four of those dealing with sexually violent predators have already been signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. The Campaign urges lawmakers to continue to stand up for children. To that end, the Campaign will release its 2014 Candidate Connection handbook in the coming weeks. The research-based guide provides a policy foundation for candidates and advocates alike. Research and best practices are at the heart of sensible, meaningful legislation – the kind we’ve helped shepherd through the Legislature...

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Legislative Connection for the Week of April 28

May 5, 2014 – IN THE LEGISLATURE, the 2014 legislative session is over, and it proved to be a good year for Florida’s children thanks largely to your support of our lobbying efforts. Before the session began, Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Destin) and House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) announced that child welfare reform and child sex trafficking would be priorities for the 2014 Legislature. On the final day of session, they delivered on that promise with the passage of SB 1666 and HB 7141. The Legislature also passed a $77 billion budget on the final day. The spending plan,...

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Legislative Connection for the Week of April 21

April 28, 2014 – THIS COMING WEEK is the final week of the 2014 regular legislative session. Work continues at a feverish pace to finalize a budget for the coming fiscal year along with other legislative priorities of The Children’s Campaign. It is clear 2014 has the potential to be a better year for Florida’s children if the legislature fulfills its promises by the time it is scheduled to adjourn on Friday. Thank you for your support of our lobbying efforts. It really has made a difference. IN THE LEGISLATURE, last week in Tallahassee the legislature returned from the Passover-Easter...

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Legislative Connection for the Week of April 7

April 14, 2014 – THIS COMING WEEK the Legislature takes a break for Easter and Passover. IN THE LEGISLATURE, last week in Tallahassee was Children’s Week. People passionate about Florida’s over four million children gathered to celebrate. Tuesday was the big day with legislators and state officials reading to kids, an interactive mobile unit that teaches kids about fresh water, a tour of the Capitol and a variety of entertainment. Over 100,000 paper-hand cutouts decorated the Capitol Rotunda to symbolize the children affected by the decisions of Florida lawmakers. Safe Harbor – Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking The Children’s Campaign and...

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