After many long weeks and countless sleepless nights, we lost the non-siblings. The Tampa Bay Times nailed it in the editorial of March 1st when they called the Early Learning Bill (HB 5013) the “Latchkey Key Kid Creation Act.” Despite the last ditch efforts of Claudia Davant, Jack Cory, Steve Wilkerson and Ted Granger, we were not successful in having the legislature maintain non-siblings of low income “working families” as a school readiness eligible category this session. I use the words “this session” because we will be successful in having non-siblings of low income “working families” reinstated as an eligible group next session!
So here is where we stand for FY 2012/2013:
· The current 32,000 afterschool children enrolled in the school readiness program are grandfathered in. They will have their eligibility re-determined under the current statutory criteria.
· Siblings of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers enrolled in the school readiness program maintain their eligibility.
FAN will immediately pull together a small planning group to develop strategies for getting this turned around next session. Among the strategies will be:
· Pre-election and post-election initiatives (During the election we need to ask incumbent and challenger(s) their stance on this specific issue)
· Increased funding opportunities
· Substantive legislation development
· Key executive branch and legislative targets
· Major Business consortiums
This is certainly not an all-inclusive list, but a few quick thoughts to tell you initial thinking. While we are all disappointed, this set back will not discourage us. We will keep fighting for our children!
Next session can’t come fast enough!
Chief Executive Officer
Florida Afterschool Network