The Children's Movement of Florida is a citizen-led, non-partisan movement to educate political, business and civic leaders -- and all parents of the state -- about the urgent need to substantially improve the way we care for our children.
Launched in September 2010, the Movement led 17 major "Milk Party" rallies and events from one corner of the state to the other – from Pensacola all the way to Key West. More than 15,000 people attended these rallies, sharing their sense of commitment and enthusiasm for our goals.
Today, more than 325,000 are reached every week by The Children’s Movement. Funded solely by private contributions from individuals and foundations, The Movement does not use any tax dollars, nor does it advocate for any statewide tax increases.
Our goal is to encourage the people and leaders of Florida to make the well-being and education of our children the state's highest priority, especially when it comes to the investment of public resources in programs that make a real difference in the lives and futures of children.
Parents must 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 – and all parents can benefit from information and support while raising their children.
The state should provide and publicize a statewide phone line and website in multiple languages focused on providing parents with the most-up-to-date information about their children’s development.
Special Needs Screening, Assessment and Treatment
One of every six children has a special need – autism, cerebral palsy, ADHD and many more. 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.
The state should provide online screening and referral tools for families; support adequate funding for the Early Steps intervention system, offering services to children (birth to 36 months) with significant delays or a condition likely to result in a development delay.
Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program and School Readiness
More than 175,000 4 year olds now participate in our state’s constitutionally-mandated Pre-K program, costing the state about $400 million annually. But our state meets just three of 10 nationally recommended standards and ranks 34th among 38 states in per pupil funding. While Florida has a solid foundation, enhancements are needed.
The state should require the use of evidence-based curricula in all VPK classrooms and provide materials and support for implementation; build upon the VPK assessment passed by the 2012 Florida Legislature to provide a more comprehensive assessment of a child -- including social, emotional and cognitive growth; and support adequate funding for School Readiness and for voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) to ensure children’s access to educational, enrichment programs that support working families and the academic and social skills needed for kindergarten and beyond.
With a rate that is nearly double the national average, Florida ranks at the bottom of states nationally in its number of uninsured children. Nearly 500,000 of Florida's youngest, most vulnerable citizens do not have health insurance. Children without health insurance do not receive adequate care, often don’t get prompt treatment when they are ill, and when they enter a hospital in Florida, they are 1.5 times as likely to die there as are insured children.
The state should:
Extend KidCare coverage to include children of “lawfully residing” immigrants as allowed by federal law and funded with federal matching dollars under provisions of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA).
Ensure all children eligible for Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (100 percent to 138 percent of federal poverty level) are extended coverage under Florida law.
The Children's Movement of Florida, working with United Way and others from around the state and through the support of Carol and Barney Barnett, has launched ReadingPals -- an early literacy initiative focused on reading by grade 3.
The goal is to provide a reading mentor to at-risk children in 10 Florida regions – from VPK through the third grade.