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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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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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