By: Lanetra Bennett
April 8, 2014
Tallahassee, FL - Children's advocates say this is arguably the most important week of the 2014 Florida legislative session, because of budget talks.
Activists are using this time to urge legislators to support issues to strengthen Florida's children and families.
Bishop A.J. Richardson, with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, says, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves."
Advocates say that means fighting for the well-being of all children in Florida. Advocates are using Children's Week at the Capitol this week to promote the health and safety of children and families.
Phyllis Kalifeh, President/CEO of The Children's Forum, says they're asking the legislature for $12 million to increase services for the 3,000 children who are most at risk of abuse and neglect.
She says they're asking for $10 million for education-based performance funding. Kalifeh says the state needs a system to track results in Florida schools.
Legislation in the works now, that lawmakers say impact families, include: Florida KidCare Program, Human trafficking, and Newborn Health Screening, Juvenile Civil citations, Florida Families Act, and Arts for All Students Act.
Rep. Gayle Harrell, says, "We are determined that we are going to do this."
Ted Granger, President of United Way of Florida, says, "If we don't fund those bills, they will not work and we will have more children die. There were 477 children who died of abuse and neglect over the last six years in the State of Florida. These bills will help to ameliorate that abomination."
More than 100,000 paper-hand cutouts hang in the Capitol rotunda to show lawmakers a visual representation of the children their decisions affect.
Of course, you can't talk about children without also talking about fun. There were several activities and entertainment throughout the day at the Capitol Tuesday.
The WaterVentures was set up in the Capitol courtyard. It's an interactive, mobile learning lab that offers a hands-on look at Florida's diverse watersheds, water conservation and recycling. Pace Center for Girls student, Harley Hiser, says, It's education, but, it's fun as well. That;s what I like about it. I like it. I like it a lot. It's pretty cool."
There was also the "Legislative Reading Corner' where dozens of legislators read to kids throughout the day. All students who participated received a free book.
Performances included the Rickards High School Band, Creative Preschool, Civic essay winners, Ballet Arts conservatory of Tallahassee, Young Actors Theatre, Metropolitan Christian Academy of the Arts, and more.
The paper hands will hang in the Capitol through April 11th.
News Release: Children's Week
Tallahassee, Fla. - Over 100,000 paper-hand cutouts hands will be hung in the State Capitol Rotunda from April 6-11. The hands show decision makers a visual representation of the vast number of children their decisions affect. With hot topics being addressed this legislative session, Children's Week attendees and organizations want the coming year's budget to prioritize promoting the growth and development of Florida's youth.
What: Hanging of the Hands
Who: Thousands of children from child care facilities and schools across the state made more than 100,000 paper-hand cutouts.
Where: State Capitol Rotunda
Why: To hang the thousands of paper-hand cutouts so legislators can visualize all the children their decisions will affect during this legislative session.