QUALITY OF LIFE FAIL: Under Rick Scott, Florida refused to restore proper funding for “Healthy Families,” one of the most successful child-abuse prevention efforts in the nation. The State’s Healthy Start coalitions across the State have been cut and in 2011 Florida ranked 36th in the nation for well-being of children in the state.

 “Healthy Families”  

Under Scott, Florida Refused To Restore Proper Funding For The State’s Most Successful Program In Reducing Child Abuse And Neglect.  “As state legislators and Gov. Rick Scott continue to block federal health care reform from entering Florida, the state is facing a child health crisis whose remedy could lie in the very policy they are determined to stop. In the 2010-2011 budget, a state program aimed at reducing instances of child abuse and neglect in the state of Florida took a big hit. Lawmakers slashed more than $10 million from a voluntary home visitation program called Healthy Families Florida. At the end of 2010, an annual study that looks into preventable child deaths in the state was commissioned by the Florida government. … One of three recommendations made by the State Child Abuse Death Review Committee: return the Healthy Families Florida budget to 2009 levels. … During this spring’s legislative session, Florida lawmakers kept the program’s budget at the decreased amount, despite the report’s recommendation.”  [Florida Independent, 7/20/11]

The Reduction In Funds For Healthy Families Meant An Estimated “Reduction In Services From 12,099 Families And 20,919 Children To 8,130 Families And 13,821 Children.” “From budget year 2010 to budget year 2011, lawmakers cut the program’s spending plan from $28 million to $18 million, including $2 million in non-recurring dollars added late in the process. Administrators estimated the cuts would translate to a reduction in services from 12,099 families and 20,919 children to 8,130 families and 13,821 children.” [Miami Herald, 7/20/11]

Florida’s Policymakers Are Standing In The Way Of Federal Money That Could Help Healthy Families Fight Child Abuse. “In addition to providing inadequate funds for the Healthy Families program, policymakers are standing in the way of federal money that could fill in the gaps. State legislators have continued to block such funds from making their way to the state.” [Florida Independent, 7/20/11]

Florida Lawmakers Rejected More Than $50 Million In Federal Child-Abuse Prevention Money– Hurting One Of The Most Successful Child Abuse Prevention Programs In The Nation. “Florida lawmakers have rejected more than $50 million in federal child-abuse prevention money. The grants were tied to the Obama administration’s healthcare reform package, which many lawmakers oppose on philosophical grounds. The money, offered through the federal Affordable Health Care Act passed last year, would have paid, among other things, for a visiting nurse program run by Healthy Families Florida, one of the most successful child-abuse prevention efforts in the nation. Healthy Families’ budget was cut in last year’s spending plan by close to $10 million.” [The Miami Herald, 7/20/11]

Healthy Families Saves The State Money Because It Assists Families In Self-Sufficiency. “Healthy Families has been operating on a shoestring budget since 1998, so it depends on additional funding from grants and other sources to work with families and parents who are considered at risk of neglecting or even abusing their children. They are offered -- not forced to accept -- guidance from nurses and trained home-health care workers about everything from early childhood development to nutrition and safety measures, from information on the harm of shaking babies to the deadliness of locking them in a hot parked car. The program is hailed as successful far and wide for reducing child abuse and neglect and even helping families overcome obstacles to employment, because it assists them in increasing self-sufficiency. For the state, millions of dollars are saved because of reduced costs for foster care, delinquency problems of children and family health problems that are prevented.” [The Miami Herald, 7/20/11]

Healthy Start coalitions

Under Scott, Florida Saw Its Healthy Start Coalitions Across The State Cut And Mentoring Programs Slashed. Under Scott, Florida saw its, “Healthy Start coalitions across the state were cut and mentoring programs such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs and Best Buddies, a program for high-school kids with special needs, took a 15 percent funding cut.” [Op-ed, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 7/15/11]

Florida Was Ranked 35th Among The States In A Study Of The Well-Being Of America's Children – Florida Also Tied For 43rd Nationally In The Percentage Of Children In Single-Parent Families, Typically A Risk Factor For Success. Kathy Silverberg, the former publisher of the Herald-Tribune's southern editions, opined: “The Kid's Count Data Book published last July ranks Florida as 35th among the states in a study of the well-being of America's children. Even worse, Florida tied for 43rd nationally in the percentage of children in single-parent families, typically identified as a risk factor for future success.” [Op-ed, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 7/15/11]

Children

2011: Florida Ranked 36th In The Nation For Well-Being Of Children In The State. According to the National Kids Count overall rankings in 2011, Florida ranked, 36th in the nation. [Kids Count, National Rankings, accessed September 24, 2011]

2000: Florida Ranked 36th In The Nation For Well-Being Of Children In The State. “According to a national study that examines the well-being of children across the nation, Florida ranks 36th. … The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a nonprofit think tank in Maryland, compiles the Kids Count survey each year.” [Orlando Sentinel, 6/20/00]

Child Support Collections

Federal Fiscal Year 2009-10: Florida Collected 52.4% Of Child Support Owed. In June 2011, Florida’s Department of Revenue’s Child Support Enforcement Program reported: “In federal Fiscal Year 2009-10, the program collected and distributed $1.48 billion in child support, 52.4% of child support obligations owed.” The “purpose of the Child Support Enforcement Program is to administer Florida’s child support laws to help ensure that children receive the financial support that they need when it is not received from one or both of their parents.” In addition, “the program has a cost benefit to tax payers,” because it helps “reduce public expenditures on welfare,” according to the program. [OPPAGA, “Government Program Summaries,” 6/8/11]

Federal Fiscal Year 1999-2000: Florida Collected 57.0% Of Child Support Owed. “In Fiscal Year 1999-2000, child support collections in Florida for welfare and non-welfare families participating in the child support program totaled $735 million. This represents an increase of 73% from Fiscal Year 1994-95 collections. Although only 57% of the child support that was due during the fiscal year is currently being collected, the organizational transfer appears to have had a positive impact on the performance of the program.” [OPPOGA, “Justification Review,” Report No. 00-24, December 2000]