Read these FAQ’s to learn more
Q: What is The Children’s Movement of Florida?
A: The Children’s Movement of Florida is a citizen-led, non-partisan movement to educate political, business and civic leaders – and all parents of the state – about the urgent need to substantially improve the way we care for our children.
Our goal is to encourage the people and leaders of Florida to make the well-being and education of our children the state’s highest priority, especially when it comes to the investment of public resources in programs that make a real difference in the lives and futures of children.
Q: Why is this necessary?
A: By almost every objective standard, Florida ranks poorly in measure after measure in how we invest in children.
Q: Can you cite examples of that?
A: Here are just a few:
- Hundreds of thousands of our children are not covered by health insurance.
- The state’s prekindergarten program does not meet most national standards.
- Early screening and treatment programs for children with special needs are poorly coordinated, difficult to access and of inconsistent quality.
- A quarter of our public high school students do not graduate.
- Florida’s businesses and community organizations are not committed to strengthening child mentoring and parent skill-building programs.
Q: What is at stake here?
A: Nothing less than the economic future of our state and the stability, safety and security of the communities in which we live.
If these multiple failures remain uncorrected, the associated economic and social burdens can become crushing. For instance, studies show that $1 invested in high-quality early childhood programs can save society at least $4 in costs associated with more prisons, more police and prosecution, more remedial programs, higher health-care obligations.
Furthermore, we know from significant research that 90 percent of human brain development occurs by age 5. If children are our future, then shouldn’t Florida invest more in them when it matters the most – during their earliest years?
Q: What sort of programs do you have in mind?
A: We have identified five areas for a first focus of special interest and action: Access to quality health care. Screening and treatment for special needs. Quality pre-kindergarten opportunities. High-quality mentoring programs. Support and information for parents.
Q: What about elementary and secondary education?
A: We support a bold commitment by the state to fully fund a high-quality education for all children. Our children – and our economy and our future – require that. Many foundations, school boards, teacher organizations, parent associations and other entities already work toward those goals. The Children’s Movement of Florida is determined to fill the void in advocating for support of programs that are crucial to children at earlier ages.
Q: Who is leading this movement?
A: The leaders:
- David Lawrence Jr., president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, founding chair of The Children’s Trust, University Scholar for early childhood development and readiness at the University of Florida, and former publisher of The Miami Herald.
- Roberto Martinez, former U.S. attorney in South Florida, current member of the Florida Board of Education, and a partner at the law firm of Colson, Hicks, Eidson based in Coral Gables.
Lawrence and Martinez co-chair a 27-member steering committee that began planning and overseeing this initiative in 2009.
Q: How will you accomplish your goals?
A: After considerable research and planning, a major effort now is underway to muster and demonstrate statewide support for The Children’s Movement of Florida and its objectives. Some 15 to 20 “Milk Party” events and rallies will be held throughout Florida during September 2010. Complete details soon are posted on our website.
We expect these events to attract thousands of people, along with extensive media coverage. An outpouring of support would help convince political, business and civic leaders to significantly elevate the priorities assigned to children’s issues.
Q: How can you know this will work?
A: The group conducted a pilot project in Palm Beach County during April and May 2010. Surveys conducted before and after that pilot project found that a series of community events – backed by an extensive informational media campaign – dramatically increased awareness of the inadequacy of children’s programs in Florida and substantially enhanced support for a statewide children’s movement. You can read the final report here.
Q: Are any tax dollars being used in this effort?
A: No tax dollars are being used during any phase of this project.
Q: Then how are you paying for it?
A: The pilot project in Palm Beach County was funded by The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which supports children, families and communities. The statewide Children’s Movement of Florida is being funded by contributions raised by its leaders.
Q: Are you advocating tax increases to pay for these improvements in children’s programs and these larger investments in the development of Florida’s children?
A: We are not advocating statewide tax increases. Rather, we insist that children’s issues receive the highest priority, and a much larger share of resources.
Q: So, what priorities would see reduced support in order to divert more funds into children’s programs?
A: It is up to our legislators and other elected officials to listen to the citizens of Florida and then act accordingly when it comes to prioritizing the allotment of public resources.
Q: Are you endorsing political candidates?
A: No. This is an educational and informational campaign. We hope that Floridians will hear our message, enlist in this movement and then work in whatever way they see fit to ensure that the necessary public and private resources are dedicated to ensuring the full and proper nurturing of our most important resource – our children.