State Task Force on drugs and newborns releases progress report

Mar 7, 2014  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

The Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns released their 2014 progress report with updates on their recommendations and alarming data on the quick rise of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

NAS ChartThe Task Force was formed in 2012 in response to the high rate of babies born with NAS. Northeast Florida has one of the highest rates in the state and Duval County has the highest number of newborns born with drug withdrawal — and the numbers are increasing each year.

The 15-member task force includes medical professionals, law enforcement and maternal and child health representatives from the March of Dimes and Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions.  They released their final report in February 2013 and will continue to meet through 2014.

Highlights from the progress report include:

  • Born Drug-Free Florida” campaign that features a helpline, website and an ad campaign.
  • NAS toolkits for nurses. The Florida Nurses Association has put together an NAS work group to develop an ongoing educational initiative with resources for nurses to assist women and their families with care.
  • Increased funding for treatment of mothers.

NAS affects babies born to mothers who ingested prescription medications and other drugs and alcohol during their pregnancy. Babies diagnosed with NAS are born battling withdrawal symptoms from drugs and/or alcohol. These symptoms can range from blotchy skin with a fever, to extreme sensitivity to light and sound, to respiratory problems and seizures.

Coalition Executive Director Jennifer Gornto sat down with Action News Jacksonville to talk about the impact it has on the community and the services we provide to help these moms and babies through Healthy Start and special initiatives like the Azalea and Magnolia projects. Watch here:

Locally, the Azalea Project, a special Healthy Start initiative addresses this issue by providing outreach, education and support to substance-abusing pregnant and parenting women. Services are available to women with a history of substance abuse and those current abusers. The Magnolia Project provides risk management services to women prior to pregnancy to mitigate risk factors when they have children.

NEFL Teen Pregnancy Task Force 2014-15 Mini-grant applications due May 1

Mar 4, 2014  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

Plan CoverThe Coalition is seeking qualified providers in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties to implement specific strategies outlined in the NEFL Teen Pregnancy Task Force community action plan to reduce teen pregnancy and births in Northeast Florida.

The Coalition has received funding from the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation and Florida Blue to offer the mini-grant program. Grantees are required to address strategies in the action plan. Collaboration between agencies is encouraged. In this yearly cycle, additional areas of interest include:

  • Male responsibility
  • Reducing STDs and HIV/AIDS
  • Incarcerated youth
  • Parent involvement
  • Public Policy (education, advocacy)

This Request for Proposals (RFP) is open to all qualified providers, including public, non-profit and for-profit organizations. All applications must be completed online and are due by 5pm on May 1.

A technical assistance conference call will be held March 12th at 3 pm. Questions regarding the RFP will be answered on the call. Please see the full RFP for more details.

Click here to access the online application.

Youth Development and Sexuality Education training to be held March 28

  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

A free training on Youth Development and Sexuality Education will be held on Friday, March 28 from 9am-11am at the Jacksonville Children’s Commission.

Register now. Seating is limited.

This workshop will provide a basic framework of adolescent development, and how to strengthen comprehensive sexuality education programs with a youth development focus.  Participants will discuss best practices youth workers need to know about adolescent development to teach developmentally appropriate sexuality education.

Participants will also learn:

  • About the different developmental stages and guidelines that apply to most young people in each age group
  • Best practices for families and youth workers in teaching and supporting sexually healthy adolescents
  • LGBTQ inclusive practices when talking about sexuality and safe sex education with adolescents

The training will be facilitated by Dr. Erin Richman, a Professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville, with an appointment in Psychology. Professor Richman is a member of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), and was a Junior Scholar for the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development (ISSBD).

As a developmental psychologist, her area of expertise focuses on the development of self-concept and well-being in children and adolescents. She received her BA in Psychology in 1993 from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate and Masters degrees also in Psychology from The University of Georgia in 2001 and 1997, respectively. She has been a faculty member at the University of North Florida and at Agnes Scott College

This program is supported in part by the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition with funding from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau under the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) (Grant No. 90AK0011-01-00). The training is organized by the Jacksonville Children’s Commission and the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN).

March: AmeriCorps Healthy Futures Month

Mar 3, 2014  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

064 americorps_20yearsWhat does a healthy future look like? What does a healthy community look like? Twenty-three North Florida Health Corps AmeriCorps members answer those questions every day as they serve at various agencies throughout the region, providing health education, access to care and screening services.

March is “Healthy Futures” Month, a time to celebrate the accomplishments and service of AmeriCorps members who have committed their time to improve the communities they serve in.  The month is part of AmeriCorps’ 20th anniversary.

The NFHC and other National Health Corps programs focus on increasing access to health care; promoting health and wellness; reducing health care costs by helping people connect with services, programs and medical homes that keep them out of emergency rooms and helping members gain the skills and knowledge that inform their path towards careers as new healthcare professionals and leaders.

Members of the 2013-104 Corps have served more than 19,000 hours in the North Florida community since they began in September. Members serve at host sites throughout the region, in addition to monthly group service projects, monthly in-service meetings, training coalitions and committees.

Jacksonville Children’s Week events planned for March 19

Feb 28, 2014  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

2014 Jax Children allJax Children’s Week will feature an advocacy walk and ceremony and briefing in Downtown Jacksonville on March 19.

Pre-walk entertainment will be from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida’s VP Step Team. The Advocacy Walk will begin at 9am at the Jacksonville Landing and end at City Hall. Former Jacksonville Jaguar Donovin Darius will lead the walk. 

Following the walk, at 10:30 at City Hall, a briefing on the status of children in Northeast Florida will include remarks from City of Jacksonville Education Commissioner Dr. Annmarie Kent-Willette and City Councilman Ray Holt.

Children can join Donovin Darius for a book reading after the reading. Frozen yogurt compliments of YOBE Frozen Yogurt and a free book will be available. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact