The Children’s Campaign: Stepping up for Florida’s youth and their families
By Travis Milton
With the legislative session approaching for the state of Florida, The Children’s Campaign (TCC) is organizing and hosting a series of Step Up For Kids Town Hall Meetings throughout the state.
“Our purpose is to increase public awareness of critical children’s issues and to generate a public dialogue about them,” said Roy Miller, president and founder of The Children’s Campaign.
Dec. 9 marked the first of their many meetings and was held in Tallahassee at the Community Room of the St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Step Up for Kids is a collaborative project of The Children’s Campaign and the Every Child Matters Education Fund, a national effort to promote investments for children and families in need.
These meetings will serve as a public forum for community dialogue among Florida’s leading child services experts, researchers, officials and advocates.
At the inaugural meeting in Tallahassee, various topics such as policy proposals, innovative ideas to help Florida’s children succeed, along with key children’s issues pending legislation in 2016.
“It’s been a little hard getting this all organized because essentially we’ve had a year round legislature starting in January 2015, so our time to actually be on the road and talk to all of our supporters about the needs of Florida’s children has been more limited than usual, said Miller.
One of the things that TCC is trying to get enacted during the 2016 legislative session is for the best practices to govern out-of-home placements for children who are in foster care homes.
Along with better practices in foster care, TCC wants to provide healthcare to impoverished and disabled children.
The town hall meeting invited personnel from all over the state who are advocates for better lives for children and families, including the president of the United Way of Florida, Ted Granger.
“We need to show that our investments in children is an investment in the economy. We’ve got the numbers to show that and we know that it’s an investment in the economy,” said Granger
“One of the things that we’re doing at the United Way this year is trying to get the legislation to expand access to free tax preparation because low income Floridians leave a billion dollars on the table in Washington every year in income tax credits and others that have been shown by research to be the number one tool that we in the United States to helping kids and their families out of poverty,” Granger said.
The keynote speaker of the Step Up for Kids inaugural town hall meeting was Ashley Rhodes-Courter, the New York Times and internationally best selling author of ‘Three Little Words’ and ‘Three More Words’.
Ashley talked about her time as a child and her abuse while being in foster care and how it motivated her to tell her story of how she has overcome what happened to her as she is able to inspire others with her past experiences and motivational words.
“When I was a little one growing up in the foster care system I sort of felt like my ideas and my outcome and my dreams really didn’t matter at all, so now to be an adult and be in a room full of people who dedicate their lives to families and children is really heartfelt,” said Rhodes-Courter.
The next town hall meeting is scheduled for Feb. 4 in Orlando, Fla. as the topic will be about what takes place at the state capitol that impacts central Florida that officials lawmakers should pay attention to Ashley Rhodes-Courter will again make her debut as the keynote speaker.
Future meeting locations will take place in Jacksonville and Tampa. For more information on The Children’s Campaign and their town hall meetings visit iamforkids.org.