Our 2019 Agenda

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New Year, Same Focus

The Movement is focused on making Florida’s children, especially in their early years, a top priority in our state. We do this by working to promote smart investments and helpful resources for their health, education and care. Here are the steps we hope to take this year. Download a PDF of our Agenda by clicking the image below.

EARLY LEARNING

Florida’s two largest preschool programs, School Readiness and Voluntary Pre-K (VPK), provide access to an early learning experience for hundreds of thousands of children across our state, establishing the foundation for future educational success. We must ensure high quality programs statewide so that children benefit from greater kindergarten readiness, and must ensure greater accountability to garner increased public investment.

This year we will:

  • Advocate for an increase in the Base Student Allocation (BSA) for VPK. Providing high-quality early learning programs is expensive and low payment rates make it difficult to sustain them. The allocation should be increased alongside quality requirements.
  • Promote the recommendations from the Committee for Early Grade Success to implement an appropriate assessment—one that adequately measures learning gains and readiness across domains (language, social/emotional, pre-literacy, early math, executive function) and can inform ongoing improvement in the system. The same direct assessment tool should be used at the beginning and end of VPK, as well as at kindergarten entry.
  • Support the full implementation of HB 1091, passed in 2018 to incorporate standards for quality as a requirement of childcare provider contracts—and to provide additional funding to programs that meet quality standards.
  • Support appropriations for Child Care Wage$ program & T.E.A.C.H. Scholarships that provide effective professional development and encourage higher education among early learning teachers.

Parent Support

Parents play the most central and formative role in children’s lives. Caring, knowledgeable adults are central to children’s healthy development. All parents have questions and concerns about their children, but not everyone has trusted sources for the answers they need. All parents can benefit from information and support.

This year we will:

  • Build upon the progress made during the last five legislative sessions and continue to expand Help Me Grow Florida to all 67 counties. This unique statewide resource offers free early-detection services for parents who have concerns about their children’s development or behavior.

Special Needs

One in five children has a special need—autism, cerebral palsy, ADHD and many more. Screening and assessment is important for early intervention and treatment. Information and support can help parents guide children through these challenges and find peace of mind. Knowledge at parents’ fingertips gives them the best chance to help their children fulfill their potential.

This year we will:

  • Support adequate funding for the Early Steps intervention system, offering services to children (birth to 3 years old) with significant delays or a condition likely to result in a development delay.

Health

With a rate that is almost double the national average, Florida ranks at the top of U.S. states in the number of uninsured children. More than 325,000 of Florida’s youngest, most vulnerable citizens do not have health insurance, yet more than 80 percent are fully eligible and could be enrolled today if our state provided adequate outreach and enrollment.

This year we will:

  • Support community-based outreach efforts to enroll eligible children.
  • Encourage Florida Healthy Kids in their process to streamline Florida KidCare programs, making it easier for parents to make the best choice for their children while promoting cost savings.

Mentoring

The Movement oversees ReadingPals, a volunteer-based literacy initiative focused on reading proficiency from VPK through third grade, which is currently in Year Seven and operating in 17 Florida regions. The program is administered by United Ways and others across the state, and is made possible by the generous support of Carol and Barney Barnett. The goal: promote early literacy and social-emotional development by building meaningful relationships between volunteer community mentors and children who may need extra help.