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Facebook Live Suicide: Questions that Need Answering

In the wake of a 14-year old Miami-Dade foster child streaming her suicide live on the Internet, there’s been an outpouring of attention and outrage over the technology and lack of safeguards that allow such videos to be produced and shared online so easily. Although some of that outrage is fair, the problem isn’t solely the technology that enables such horrific acts to be aired. Equal attention should be paid to the ability for children and their caregivers to access appropriate crisis and specialized, ongoing mental health services ̶ especially children under supervision of Florida’s child welfare system. Allegations of...

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New Year Brings New Promising Practices for Serving Trafficked and Exploited Children

The year 2017 looks to be much brighter for some of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens with the expected launch of Open Doors, a new, promising coordinated system for serving trafficked and exploited children and young adults, mostly ages 10 – 24. This new model will bring an array of promising practices to Florida that have improved service delivery and outcomes for victims in other states. Five Florida regions are targeted to pilot Open Doors due to the high rate of sexual exploitation and trafficking in those areas and the lack of available services: Northeast Florida: Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Baker...

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Debtors’ Prisons for Kids?

Most people think debtors’ prisons are a thing of the past. But are they really? A recent national report by the Juvenile Law Center from Philadelphia shows juvenile court costs, attorney’s fees and fines that are assessed as youth move through the juvenile justice system ̶ and sometimes even in community diversion programs ̶ cause significant hardships for youth and their families. The costs for court related services, including probation, a “free appointed attorney,” mental health evaluations, the costs of incarceration, treatment and restitution payments can push children deeper into the juvenile justice system and families deeper into debt. Across...

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An Advanced Look at our 2017 Legislative Agenda

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,...

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Study: Arresting youth for common misbehavior harms public safety

Results from Florida’s second annual comprehensive study of alternatives to juvenile arrests – called “Stepping Up: Florida’s Top Juvenile Civil Citation Efforts 2016” – were recently released at a well-attended press conference in Tallahassee. Authored by one of Florida’s top juvenile civil citation experts, the study shows increasing the use of civil citations statewide up to 75% would enable law and order entities to invest up to $62 million in preventing and addressing felonies and serious crimes, as well as significantly improve life outcomes for nearly 7,000 arrested youth. Philanthropists Joseph W. & Terrell S. Clark, along with the Jessie Ball duPont...

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Important Progress for Girls

Fewer arrests, residential commitments, and transfers to adult court Just five years ago, the First Coast region was a very tough place to be a girl. The Fourth Judicial Circuit, which includes Duval, Clay and Nassau counties, incarcerated more girls than any other Florida circuit ̶ more than Tampa, Miami and Fort Lauderdale combined. Last year, the circuit dropped to third in the state for committing girls to juvenile justice residential facilities, and other positive changes are occurring, according to a recently released See the Change three-year trend analysis report by the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. Since 2011-2012, the incarceration...

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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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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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