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A legislative update provided by the United Way of Florida
 
ISSUE #1 - Correction                                                                        MARCH 6, 2015
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Correction to March 6 edition of the Legislative Link

Hello Legislative Link Readers:

 

Early Steps funding was misreported in last Friday's Legislative Link.  Please see corrected article below.

EarlyWinEarlyStepsEarly Win for Early Steps: A Win?

 

Early Steps is one of Florida's most critically-needed services for children and their families. The program serves more than 43,000 children birth to 36 months old who have medical conditions such as Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, hearing/vision impairment, as well as children with significant developmental delays. It is instrumental in helping these children achieve their full life-time potentials. 


Last month, the Department of Health (DOH) notified the state's 15 Early Steps offices that $4.2 million would be cut from this year's program budget. When concerned legislators, led by Senator Renee Garcia, voiced their displeasure that such a cut would decimate direct services to children, the Department rescinded the cut, slashed state program office staffing, and told local Early Steps offices to reduce their administrative/operating costs by nine percent. In doing so, the Department assured Senator Garcia that direct services will not be impacted and the program will run more efficiently.

Early Steps experts and staff across the state strongly disagree, claiming that services and program quality will be compromised to the point that continued federal funding - about $22 million of the total $54 million budget - is jeopardized.

Dr. Celeste Philip, Deputy State Health Officer for Children's Medical Services in DOH, will testify next week about the "transition".  Advocates are looking forward to hearing the details.

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