March means one thing in Tallahassee; the start of the legislative session for the State of Florida. In Miami-Dade, The Children’s Trust always advocates for legislative goals and priorities that benefit the children and families of our county. This year, is no different – well, if you don’t count the fact that physical access to the capitol is guided by strict COVID-19 guidelines and most business is done through Zoom meetings (thanks again coronavirus).
Here are The Trust’s legislative team's top four legislative priorities for the year:
Book Club coming to entire state: Thanks in no small part due to the success of The Children’s Trust Book Club, the legislature is considering passing a bill to start a statewide book club for elementary school kids. The Trust Book Club is for children from birth to 5 years old but the state version would cover elementary school kids in public schools. The Trust has briefed legislators on the successes and merits of its book club as a model for the statewide program and will be helping usher the program through approval.
Two Generational Approach to eliminating poverty: It’s hard to argue against raising the minimum wage as Florida did, but there can be some negative consequences for families who potentially lose access to KidCare, SNAP and other assistance programs when they get even a small pay raise. In order to help those families, The Trust is supporting Two-Generational Strategies for Families to avoid slipping back into poverty by developing equitable policies and aligning social services that support children’s development with workforce development services.
Early Learning expansion: The Trust has long been a supporter of the critical importance of quality early learning and this year we will be backing Early Learning bills that seek to transform kids from even before pre-school to the third grade with intervention programs, assessments and learning practices that ensure kids start learning early and often.
Juvenile Justice, transitioning toward adulthood: Having a police record is challenging for any adult looking to get gainful employment and with other aspects of daily life, but for kids with records the damage can be even harder to overcome. The Trust will be pushing for bills that allow for state attorney discretion on filing charges against juveniles who receive concurrent civil citations and laws that expunge juvenile records for some convictions as they reach adulthood.
The Children’s Trust Public Policy Team will be working on these and other bills making their way through the Florida House of Representatives and Senate in the coming months, always with an eye on what is best for children and families in Miami-Dade.
To stay up to date on what’s happening in the state legislature and the work The Trust is doing sign up to receive the Capitol Connection newsletter and visit the Advocacy page at TheChildrensTrust.org.