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A legislative update provided by the United Way of Florida
ISSUE #5                                                                                                APRIL 5, 2013
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SecondELDraftReleased2nd Early Learning Draft Released

 

On Monday, the House Education Committee released the second draft of what may ultimately be the 2013 Legislature's early learning bill.  It will be refined once again and then passed out of the Committee next Tuesday.  Read more.

MidPointSuccessMid-Point Success: Quality Parenting for Children in Foster Care

 

Wednesday marked the session's midpoint.  While much has transpired - and much has not - arguably the biggest and best action the Legislature has thus far taken was to pass the "Quality Parenting for Children in Foster Care Act".  Foster children face hefty challenges, and those transitioning into adulthood face hurdles most of us couldn't clear.  Last week, the Senate passed CS/HB 215, and sent it to the Governor.  The bill grants foster parents the authority to act as parents to foster children in their care; normalizing - to the extent possible - a situation that is not normal.  Read more.
NormalcyWhy is "Normalcy" Needed for Foster Kids?

 

According to the Center for Strategic Philanthropy & Civic Engagement:

  • Fewer than 50% of Florida's foster kids graduate from high school;
  • 30% of former foster kids are more likely to be substance abusers;
  • Up to 85% of youth in foster care have mental health issues;
  • 40% of former foster care youth become parents within two years of leaving foster care;
  • 25% of former foster care kids will be homeless within ONE year;
  • 75% of former foster care kids experience unemployment; and
  • 1 in 4 former foster care BOYS and 1 in 10 GIRLS end up in prison.

BudgetTimelineHouse and Senate Budget Timeline

 

The budget is the only bill the Legislature is constitutionally required to pass each year.  This week, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed their respective proposed budgets for next year.  Here's their schedule for completing the budget by the May 3 deadline:
  
April 3:  Appropriations Committees pass bills.
  
April 10-12:  Final budget bills passed by House and Senate.

April 15-30:  Conference committees meet and resolve budget differences.

TBD:  House and Senate pass Conference agreement for 2013-14 state budget.

May 3:  Session's scheduled end.

Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life is out there is because they haven't tried to contact us.

-- Calvin and Hobbes

UseAffordableHousingUse Affordable Housing Money for Affordable Housing

 

More than 20 years ago, the Legislature made a promise to Floridians:  They pledged a portion of ad valorem taxes paid to the State to be used for affordable housing, and they created trust funds to hold the money.  If the $204 million in trust funds are used for affordable housing next year, they would create nearly 15,770 jobs and $1.6 billion in positive economic impact in Florida.  But both the House and Senate proposed budget plans sweep the funds for other issues.  Read more.

SupportEarlyStepsSupport Early Steps.  The Most Important Steps.

 

The earlier we detect and address developmental issues in our children, the better it is for them and for society.  Short and long term.

Florida's Early Steps program serves children birth to 36 months who have medical conditions such as autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, hearing/vision impairment, as well as children with significant developmental delays.  Each year, Early Steps helps these children achieve critical developmental milestones, starting them on a path toward success at home and at school.

Yet Florida Early Steps workers carry a caseload almost double their counterparts across the country (1:65 vs. 1:38), and Florida only provides a fraction of Pennsylvania's budget of $5,268 per child.

In its Legislative Budget Request (LBR), the Department of Health recommended that Governor Scott ensure a stable level of funding for Early Steps and begin reducing caseloads.  Governor Scott agreed, and proposed that the Legislature appropriate an additional $5.6 million, raising to $662.30 state funding for each of the projected 46,455 children who will be served next year.

The proposed House and Senate budgets provide the same amount of funding to Early Steps as the program received this year.  We urge the Legislature to heed Governor Scott's recommendation.  Read more.

Sacred cows make the best hamburger.  -- Mark Twain
LegislativeKudosChildHealthCareLegislative Kudos: Child Health Care

 

The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families reports that the number of people without health insurance nationwide increased 8.5 percent from 2008 - 2010 to a total of 47.2 million people.  The number of children in poverty also increased significantly, from 13.2 million in 2008 to 15.7 million in 2010.


Yet, during that same period, the number of children without health coverage decreased from 6.9 million to 5.9 million - a decrease the report attributes to the success of CHIP and Medicaid.


Florida saw the largest decrease in uninsured children nationwide.  Florida's child uninsurance rate declined four percent, from 667,758 to 506,934.  Despite this large decrease, Florida's overall rate still remains at 12.7 percent, exceeding the national average of 8 percent.

HealthyFamiliesNeededHealthy Families Needed

 

Over the last three years, child abuse (children 0-17) has increased 6.1 percent.  Last year, more than 53,000 children suffered from the trauma of abuse or neglect, 145 children every day.  Over 50 percent of these children were five years old or younger.

Healthy Families Florida is an evidence-based home visiting program proven to prevent abuse and neglect and keep families out of the child welfare system.  Thorough analysis has proven that:
  • 97% of children were free from abuse and neglect during services.
  • 98% of children were free from abuse and neglect within 12 months after program completion.
  • 95% of children were free from abuse and neglect within 36 months after program completion. 
Three years ago the Healthy Families Florida budget was cut by 36 percent.  The House and Senate are both proposing to maintain current year funding for the program, but we need to reduce those disturbing abuse numbers.  Read more.
PresumptiveEligibilityPresumptive Eligibility: Will it Happen?

 

On Monday, the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee passed CS/SB 548, which grants presumptive eligibility to any child under the age of 19 who applies for coverage under the KidCare program through a federally qualified health center.

Sixteen states have put presumptive eligibility into law, having concluded that when a poor child needs health care it is best for the child and cost effective for taxpayers to presume they are eligible for coverage and provide it.

Unfortunately, the Senate bill is moving slowly, and its House companion (HB 689) has stalled in the House.  Read more.
BillsHeardBILLS HEARD THIS WEEK
(Portions excerpted from Legislative staff analyses.)
CharitableContributionsCharitable Contributions

 

CS/SB 102 amends the Florida Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (FUFTA) to provide protection against creditors' clawback actions for charitable contributions received in good faith by qualified religious or charitable organizations.  A charitable contribution made by a natural person, however, is subject to clawback actions if received within two years of the commencement of an action under FUFTA, a bankruptcy petition, or an insolvency proceeding, unless the transfer was consistent with the debtor's practices in making charitable contributions or the transfer did not exceed 15 percent of the debtor's gross annual incomeRead more.
 

Last Action:  04/01/13 SENATE Favorable by Commerce and Tourism.

DisabilityAwarenessDisability Awareness

 

CS/SB 226 changes current law to require, rather than authorize, district school boards to provide disability history and awareness instruction in all K-12 public schools, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.  The instruction must be integrated into the existing school curriculum and be augmented by individuals who have a disability, are approved by the school or school district, and meet existing background screening requirements.  The bill requires each public school in Florida to establish a disability history and awareness council and provides requirements for the council regarding membership, roles and responsibilities, and frequency of meetings each year.
 
Last Action:  04/01/13 SENATE Favorable with CS by Education.
DDDevelopmental Disabilities

 

CS/SB 472 creates the C.V. Clay Ford/Gabriela Poole Developmental Disabilities Savings Plan intended to assist families in paying for services for children with developmental disabilities, who will become ineligible for services, such as exceptional education services, due to age.


Last Action:  04/01/13 SENATE Favorable with CS by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs.

HumanTraffickingHuman Trafficking

 

SB 552 authorizes victims or witnesses younger than 18 years old to testify in court using closed circuit television or video.  Current law limits the use of such technology to children under the age of 16 years.  The bill will enhance the ability of the State to receive testimony in human trafficking cases by protecting the victims from harm that would result from testifying in court in the presence of the defendants.

Last Action:  04/01/13 SENATE Favorable by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs.
SubstanceAbuseServicesSubstance Abuse Services

 

CS/SB 738 creates state regulation for the placement and operation of residential facilities, called sober houses, that provide housing to recovering addicts of substance abuse.  The bill prohibits sober houses from being located within 1,000 feet of each other and requires sober houses to provide certain information to local governments to ensure compliance with local zoning and occupancy standards. 
 
Last Action:  04/01/13 SENATE Favorable with CS by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs.
MandatoryReportsMandatory Reports of Child Abuse

 

During the 2012 Legislative Session, House Bill 1355 passed.  In part, it requires any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused by an adult other than a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child's welfare to report such knowledge or suspicion to the Central Abuse Hotline (Hotline) maintained by the Department of Children and Families.  HB 757 provides two exceptions to the law passed last year:
  • An officer or employee of a law enforcement agency is not required to provide notice to the Hotline when the incident under investigation by the agency was originally reported to law enforcement by the Hotline through the electronic transfer of the report or call; and  
  • The Hotline is not required to electronically transfer calls and reports to the county sheriff's office if the incident of alleged abuse was originally reported to the Hotline by the county sheriff's office or another law enforcement agency.
Last Action:  04/03/13 HOUSE Favorable by Judiciary Committee.
OffensesAgainstUnbornOffenses Against Unborn Children

 

In Florida, killing an "unborn quick child" is only considered a separate offense when specifically designated by statute.  There are currently three statutes that make it a crime to cause the death of an "unborn quick child" - vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter, and killing of an unborn quick child by injury to the mother.  The term "unborn quick child" is currently defined to mean a fetus that is "capable of meaningful life outside the womb."

HB 759 replaces the term "unborn quick child" with the term "unborn child."  The bill defines "unborn child" as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."  The bill also creates a new rule of statutory construction, specifying that if a person commits any crime that causes the death of, or bodily injury to, an unborn child, such person commits a separate offense, unless otherwise provided for in the criminal statute that was violated.  The punishment for the separate offense is the same as the punishment that applies to the criminal statute that was violated, had the death or injury occurred to the mother. 
 
Last Action:  04/03/13 HOUSE Favorable by Judiciary Committee.
IndependentLivingIndependent Living

 

SB 1036 is a comprehensive independent living bill that, among others, authorizes young adults in foster care, who did not reach permanency before 18 years of age, to remain in care until 21 years of age.  The bill also provides eligibility criteria to remain in care, allows a young adult to leave and re-enter care anytime before reaching 21 years of age, and requires young adults who are in care to reside in supervised living arrangements.  The bill requires the Department of Children and Families and community-based providers to develop a transition plan.  The bill also requires continuation of case management, service delivery, and judicial review for young adults remaining in care.
 
Last Action:  04/01/13 SENATE Favorable by Judiciary.
ChildrensInitiativesChildren's Initiatives

 

SB 1322 codifies two Florida children's initiatives that are currently in existence and that have been designated by the Ounce of Prevention Fund (Ounce) as a Florida children's initiative, pursuant to s. 409.147, F.S.:
  • The "New Town Success Zone" in Jacksonville; and
  • The "Parramore Kidz Zone" in Orlando.
This bill provides that the initiatives are subject to Florida public records laws, public meeting laws, and procurement laws, and that the initiatives are designed to encompass an area large enough to include all necessary components of community life, but small enough to reach every member of each neighborhood who is willing to participate.
 
Last Action:  04/01/13 SENATE Favorable by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs.
ApptofAttnyforDepChildDisAppointment of an Attorney for a Dependent Child with Disabilities

 

CS/SB 1468 creates s. 39.01305, F.S., to require a court to appoint attorneys to represent dependent children having disabilities, who either reside in a skilled nursing facility or are under consideration for placement in a skilled nursing facility.
 
Last Action:  04/01/13 SENATE Favorable by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs.
WHAT'S INSIDE

2nd Early Learning Draft Released

 

Mid-Point Success: Quality Parenting for Children in Foster Care

 

Why is "Normalcy" Needed for Foster Kids?

 

House and Senate Budget Timeline

 

Use Affordable Housing Money for Affordable Housing

 

Support Early Steps. The Most Important Steps.

 

Legislative Kudos: Child Health Care

 

Healthy Families Needed

 

Presumptive Eligibility: Will it Happen?

 

  

BILLS HEARD THIS WEEK:

 

Charitable Contributions

 

Disability Awareness

 

Developmental Disabilities

 

Human Trafficking

 

Substance Abuse Services

 

Mandatory Reports of Child Abuse

 

Offenses Against Unborn Children

 

Independent Living

 

Children's Initiatives

 

Appointment of an Attorney for a Dependent Child with Disabilities

 

 

United Way of Florida bills of interest, updated weekly.
  
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Important

Session Dates

March 5

- First day of the 2013 Florida Legislative Session 
   

April 8 & 9

- Children's Week
  

May 3

- Last day of Session 

 

 
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