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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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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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The Children’s Campaign Begins Series of Town Hall Meetings Statewide

All indications point to 2016 being a critical year for Florida’s children. With legislative session getting an early January 12th start next month, the Florida legislature will once again face a delicate balancing act in finalizing a state budget that addresses both the “wants” and “needs” of Florida citizens. To increase public awareness of critical children’s issues and generate a public dialogue about them, The Children’s Campaign is organizing and hosting a series of Step Up for Kids Town Hall Meetings throughout Florida. First Town Hall Scheduled for Dec 9th in Tallahassee Step Up for Kids is a collaborative project...

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Why Aren’t More Abusive and Neglectful Parents Removed From the Home?

“There are times when folks co-sleep with a child and they are on substances. To me, that’s neglectful. To me, that should be a crime. That’s no different to me than driving under the influence.” The Children’s Campaign applauds this recent statement by Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll to Florida Public Radio.  Those of us old enough to remember can recall when driving under the influence was tolerated and even joked about in night clubs and comedy shows.  A movement – Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) – changed the course.  Stricter laws were passed and with tougher...

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Analysis: Child Death Review Improvements Could Save Lives

The death of a neglected or abused child is the ultimate sign that something has gone tragically wrong – not just within a family, but often within the child protection system itself. Realizing that many child maltreatment fatalities can be prevented, the state passed sweeping child welfare reforms over the past couple of years. The goal was to improve the quality of the child protection workforce, and to increase the transparency and expert review of the child protection system. Ideally, all would learn from errors made.  Ideally, there would be increased accountability. Ideally, changes would be made rapidly to save...

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Part Two: Florida’s ‘Modern Day Slaves’ Need Open Doors

Perhaps the greatest challenge for children rescued from human trafficking is the shortage of available and appropriate treatment options and wrap-around services. The problem isn’t just limited to Florida.  The same story is being aired in media coverage throughout the country. Essentially, although laws were passed to move rescued children to child welfare from juvenile justice – in recognition that they are victims and not criminals – the dollars formerly used to confine or treat them have remained largely in the criminal justice system.  This has resulted in too few services for the most complicated cases now hitting the child...

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Florida’s ‘Modern Day Slaves’ Need Open Doors

Imagine being confined behind bars and razor wire. You have been there for upwards of 30 days.  But you are a victim, not the perpetrator, of a horrible crime. This would be a nightmare, right? Now imagine this scenario as seen through the eyes of child victims of human trafficking. Being confined in a juvenile detention center or deep-end commitment program after their rescue is not a bad dream, but a horrifying reality. Florida’s Commercially Sexually Exploited Children are Suffering Jane* is just one child victim of sex trafficking. When her plight was recently brought to the attention of The...

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Innovations for Justice-Involved Girls Featured on PBS News Hour

  In America’s juvenile justice system, experts say girls, who make up a larger portion of incarcerated youth than in the past, act out for different reasons than boys. Girls in the system experience differing types of trauma and at differing rates than boys. For instance, 31% of girls in the juvenile justice system experience sexual abuse while incarcerated- a staggering four times the rate for boys. This phenomenon of trauma often leads to bad behavior- a vicious cycle that is only reinforced by the juvenile justice system. Soozee Stuart, who has cycled in and out of juvenile detention, was...

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Part Two: New York Times Best-Selling Author Refuses to Be Silenced by Gag Order

Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s life came full circle five years ago when she and her husband Erick became foster parents in Florida’s Tampa Bay area.  Ashley, a New York Times best-selling author of two books – Three Little Words and Three More Words respectively – had spent nearly 10 years in foster care before her adoption at age 12.  Part One of this series described why Ashley and Erick surrendered their foster parent license, rather than sign a “gag order” that would have prevented them from speaking publicly about the gruesome murder of a former foster child. Foster Parents Still Disrespected Perhaps...

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Gag Order Won’t Silence New York Times Best-Selling Author

The final straw for Ashley Rhodes-Courter was the “gag order” mandating that she not speak publicly about the gruesome murder of her former foster child, Jenica Randazzo. For much of her 29 years of life, Ashley courageously spoke up when witnessing wrongs, a trait fine-tuned during the tumultuous nine years she spent in foster care herself. Born to a single teen mom, Ashley went into Florida’s foster care system at age three and was shuffled through 44 caseworkers and 14 foster homes   ̶  some horribly abusive   ̶  before being adopted out of a group home at the age...

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