After the Florida House of Representatives surprisingly adjourned three days prior to the scheduled end of the legislative session, many pending issues remain status quo, including measures that directly impact United Way of Florida’s priorities, such as the Early Learning Health and Safety bill. This bill has been a priority of children’s advocates throughout the state, but it failed to make it across the line for the second year in a row.
The Florida Legislature is scheduled to begin a special session June 1 to finalize the 2015-2016 state budget. As they make the critical decisions on how our tax dollars will be invested, Florida’s 32 United Ways call on the Legislature to make the needs of children its top priority. We are urging the Legislature to fund the following education and health programs that serve and protect Florida’s children.
Increase school readiness funding $30 million to reduce the waitlist by 10 percent
Since 2001, school readiness program funding for low-income children has decreased by $95 million, creating a waitlist of more the 60,000 children.
Appropriate $10.5 million to strengthen the Early Learning Performance Pilot
The funding pilot is designed to incentivize and assess quality improvements to school readiness programs.
Increase KidCare funding by $4.8 million to provide coverage for more children
Increasing general revenue dollars will draw down $16 million in federal funds to provide health care for 22,000 low-income legal immigrant children across the state.
Appropriate $4 million to expand Help Me Grow across Florida
Help Me Grow promotes early detection of developmental and behavioral problems in children, and links parents with needed local resources.
Aside from special session, the United Way of Florida (UWOF) Public Policy Team is already working toward next year’s legislative session and has started to develop the UWOF 2016 Consensus Legislative Agenda. UWOF provides background on priority issues included in the 2015 Consensus Legislative Agenda.