About Our 5 Promises
Utilizing polling results The Children’s Campaign’s 5 Promises aligns children’s services into 5 Promise areas as a means of creating distinctions and understandings around key topics. The 5 Promises offers substantive platforms for improving the overall health and well-being of children spanning pre-natal and children’s health, child protection, high quality universal pre-kindergarten and child care, after-school services and juvenile justice reform. The Children’s Campaign is dedicated to ensuring that every parent/guardian and child in Florida, regardless of gender, race, ability, creed, orientation or education has access to important programs and services encompassed by the 5 Promises.
Promise 1: Maternal, Infant and Child Health
Florida child healthcare programs are in trouble. Infant mortality is rising, as well low-weight births. Learning disabilities, special needs, and mental health issues in children are becoming more common. There are a myriad of health issues that are not being addressed by our state government. 33% of pregnant women were not even able to get pre-natal care in the first trimester. And even though there are programs in place to meet some of the need, such as KidCare, tens of thousands of children who are otherwise eligible are not enrolled. Necessary programs are severely underfunded, and there is a lack of education about these programs. The Children’s Campaign’s first promise to parents is Maternal, Infant and Child Health. To that end we will work to increase funding for these important programs, as well start community movements, and create and support public policy that conforms with best practices.
Promise 2: Safety, Permanence and Services to Children in Out-of-Home Settings
Children in foster care are at a serious disadvantage. More than 17% have three or more placements in the first year of care. And it affects their academics. More than half are below their grade-level, and half of these students do not even graduate from High-School, those that age out of the system lack many skills, leading to poor outcomes. To provide better assistance, we recommend legislation that continues Florida’s eligibility for the Title IV-E waiver, as well increase foster care eligibility age to 21. However, adjusting policy isn’t enough. Care givers and case managers need more support when dealing with their cases, as well insuring that these children have access to Guardian ad Litem or legal representation.
Promise 3: High Quality Pre-K, Child Care and Early Learning
Brain science shows that educating our children at an early age is critical for their development. Early education helps children develop the proper social and learning skills to make them successful adults. Providing quality and qualified teachers for our kids insures a better future for all. It also allows parents to identify developmental issues with their children, or other possible disabilities. Unfortunately, Florida’s Pre-Kindergarten education quality is inconsistent. Florida needs to adopt national standards for child care and pre-kindergarten. To make sure these standards are sound, hearings need to be held so that our government can gain an understanding on the situation of early child care, and make sure that the state is equipped financially to handle the issue.
Promise 4: Safe and Enriching After School Experiences
After school programs are highly beneficial to students. They provide a safe place for children when their parents are not home. Florida’s after school care is lacking, and many children who want to participate are unable to. Early Learning Coalitions are forced to choose between younger and older children due to inadequate funds. If these programs are not provided to children, the overall costs will increase. Failure to provide high quality before and after school leads to higher levels of juvenile crime, teen pregnancies, and teen drug abuse.
Promise 5: Delinquency Prevention and Juvenile Justice Reform
Florida continues to struggle with juvenile justice. Failure to retain consistent political will to make the changes, and acknowledgement of the fact that public safety must begin with an adequately funded juvenile justice system resulted in a 1989 Juvenile Justice Review Task Force and a 2007 Blueprint Commission finding essentially the same solutions to struggles in Florida’s juvenile justice system. Youth of color receive harsher punishments and suffer disproportionately, girls are the largest growing population, and children in the juvenile justice system often start under the care of the Department of Children and Families. The State of Florida needs to invest in programs that can provide the right services at the right time in the least restrictive environment, while continuing to provide serious sanctions for youth involved in serious and violent crime, where appropriate. The Children’s Campaign will advocate for more gender-specific programming, a system that addressed the disproportionate presence of minorities in the system, and provides adequate resources to meet the mental and physical health needs of youth.