2017 Movement Agenda
School Readiness and Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) Programs
Florida’s School Readiness and Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten programs mean hundreds of thousands of children have access to an early learning experience – allowing for both a foundation for future educational success and for parents to maintain employment. Even in these improved economic times, about 37,000 children currently find themselves on a waiting list for School Readiness services; in addition, there is a very real need to promote and ensure higher quality for these programs statewide.
- Increase access to Florida’s School Readiness program and link provider payments to early learning quality standards and the actual cost of providing high-quality care.
Parent Skill-Building – Help Me Grow
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.
- Building off of the progress made during the last three legislative sessions, continue to expand Help Me Grow services to every county in Florida. This 24/7 program, accessible in several languages by phone, web and mobile, focuses on providing parents with the most up-to-date information about their children’s development. Funding Request: $1.88 million.
With a rate that is almost double the national average, Florida ranks at the top of states nationally in the number of uninsured children. More than 283,000 of Florida's youngest, most vulnerable citizens do not have health insurance, yet a majority of them are eligible for enrollment today. But more outreach efforts are necessary to ensure families receive this information.
- Support legislation for a work group to look at streamlining children’s health-care access in Florida.
Developmental Screening, Assessment and Treatment for Children Who May Have Special Needs
One of every six children has a special need – such as 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.
- Provide screening and referral tools for families through a statewide Help Me Grow system.
- Support adequate funding for the Early Steps intervention system, offering services to children (birth to 36 months) with diagnosed developmental delays or a condition likely to result in a delay.
The Movement, working with United Ways and others from around the state and through the support of child advocates Carol and Barney Barnett, is in Year 5 of ReadingPals -- an early literacy initiative focused on having more children reading by grade 3. The program enlists volunteer reading mentors to help at-risk children, from VPK through the third grade, in 15 Florida regions.