Legislator criticizes House elimination of federal home visiting grant

By | 02.15.12 | 2:08 pm

State Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville (Pic by Mark Foley, via myfloridahouse.gov)

In a new Florida Times-Union op-ed, state Rep. Mia Jones, D- Jacksonville, writes that it is “not right” that the state is turning down federal grant money for child abuse prevention and maternal care home visiting that advocates fought hard for last year.

As I reported earlier this month, the current House budget eliminates the $3.4 million “Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Visiting Grant.” The grant, which is allocated through the Affordable Care Act, would go to groups that provide home visiting programs in the state. Such programs have been shown to provide effective child abuse and neglect prevention, maternal care and pregnancy prevention for teens.

The Florida Legislature originally denied the grant last year because the state is leading the legal challenge to the law allocating the funds.

Jones writes that the elimination of that grant, which exempts the state from millions more for those programs, is a good example of how the state’s refusal to take money from the Affordable Care Act has hurt health programs in the state.

According to Jones:

Over the last year alone, the state has turned away more than $35 million linked to this act, including funding for community health centers.

Some of this funding has nothing to do with the national health plan.

A case in point is the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.

States that have this program receive federal funding to work with expectant and new families to improve the health and development of their children.

There is no state or local match required for these funds.

Five sites, including Jacksonville, have hired and trained staff and are now enrolling vulnerable families who agree to participate in the programs.

Military families, in both Jacksonville and the state plan, are given priority in receiving this assistance.
The goal is to strengthen families and to prevent higher costs for health care, education and even the criminal justice system in the future.

The state stands to lose nearly $30 million in support for this program over the next four years.

This is not right for the state or its families.

Although the state has continued to turn down federal grants because they allocated through the Affordable Care Act, the state did accept funds from the law for abstinence-only education programs.

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