After suffering through many of the challenges of COVID-19 over more than 15 months, children and families in Miami-Dade County received a much-needed boost from Tallahassee this year with news that several bills passed the legislature that will have direct impacts on improving their lives.
Like every year, The Children’s Trust’s legislative team worked hard fighting for the rights of children and families in the county throughout the end of the legislative session in May and the news could hardly have been better with laws passed that will impact early learning and literacy, new mothers and families struggling to receive government assistance who are at or near the federal poverty line.
Statewide Book Club: Those Miami-Dade County families who are members of The Children’s Trust Book Club will be happy to know that a statewide program modeled after our own was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. The statewide program will give school districts the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out of a book club program that targets children from kindergarten to 3rd grade in an effort to improve literacy at early ages. The program will be run by a private foundation and much like the Trust’s program involves children receiving free books in the mail.
Renewed Focus on Early Learning: An even bigger deal involved the signing into law of Early Learning and Early Grade Success initiative designed to change the landscape for all state children from birth to 8th Grade. The comprehensive bill seeks to improve quality early learning and give all children a fair shot at learning equity with a variety of assessments and remediation services so that educators and parents can track children to make sure they navigate the all-important factors surrounding early learning.
Juvenile Justice Reform: Even though these bills passed the legislature, they were vetoed by the Governor. The juvenile justice reform bills aimed at expunging arrest and criminal conviction records for youth when they turn 18 for certain misdemeanors.
Postpartum Benefits Extended for Mothers: Of particular interest to new mothers is a bill that passed into law that will extend health insurance for new mothers covered by Medicaid from 3 months to a year, meaning that mothers who have recently given birth will be covered for all medical and mental health coverage for four-times as long.