Long-time Board Members Karen Wolfson and Reverend Tommy Rodgers traveled to Tallahassee with Healthy Start staff yesterday to advocate for Northeast Florida’s babies and families during Children’s Week. Healthy Start Board Member and Vice-Chair Dr. Stephen Baker also took a group of political science students from Jacksonville University to the Capitol, meeting with members of the House and Senate and teaching students about the legislative process firsthand.
Children’s Week, held during legislative session each year, brings together thousands of children, parents, advocates, community leaders and policy makers from throughout the state to participate in information sharing, educational activities, and to advocate on behalf of children. Nearly 100 children’s organizations were represented in the Captiol Courtyard and Rotunda, with many offering free health screenings, face painting, giveaways and information regarding Children’s programming in Florida.
Dr. Baker and his students met with Representatives Charles McBurney, Lake Ray, Mike Weinstein and John Tobia, as well as Senator Audrey Gibson and Chief Legislative Assistant for Senator Stephen Wise. They discussed the importance of early childhood development issues and advocated for continued support for the Jacksonville Kid’s Coalition, of which Healthy Start is a member organization.
Healthy Start’s delegation met with several legislators, including Representative Daniel Davis, Representative Mia Jones, Representative Doc Renuart and Senator Audrey Gibson, as well as with the legislative aides of Representative Reggie Fullwood and Senator John Thrasher. They thanked legislators for their continued support of Healthy Start, and in addition, the group advocated for:
- Restoration of last year’s $5.4 million cut in funding to the state Healthy Start program, which affected services to more than 20,000 at-risk pregnant women and families statwide
- Continued funding authority for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program to support Jacksonville as one of five Nurse-Family Partnership sites in Florida, which the House has proposed eliminating.
- Support for an Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) Pilot in Duval and Gadsden Counties to reduce the rate sexually transmitted infections, especially among minorities, in these areas.
For more detailed information about these issues, as well as the impact of Healthy Start on saving lives and money in our state, click here.