According to a state health agency, Florida may not be completely out of the running for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program grants the state Legislature rejected.

According to a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health, Nancy Blum, the agency was notified late last month about “an opportunity to request a waiver,” which, “if accepted” by the federal government, would allow the state health department to reapply for the grants.

The state Legislature has recently come under criticism for the rejection of home visiting grants; they were allocated to provide child abuse and neglect prevention in the state. The agencies that would have received the grants suffered budget cuts in the course of the past few years.

GOP legislative leaders have said they declined millions of dollars in grants because the state is in litigation against the law that allocates the funds, the Affordable Care Act. The Legislature did approve money from the law for abstinence education.

Blum says the “DOH submitted the waiver to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and, if it is accepted, DOH will submit a grant application for Fiscal Year 2011-12.”

According to a recent story in Bloomberg, Gov. Rick Scott is considering possibly asking the state Legislature to accept those grants, again.

Blum tells the Independent “it is important to note that DOH does not currently have budget authority to utilize the funding related to this grant for implementation of the MIECHV Program.”

“However,” she explains, “the submission of this grant application affords Florida the opportunity to remain eligible for future funds should budget authority become available in the future.”

This eligibility could be important in the future, if participation in the home visiting program becomes a requirement for federal education grants for early learning. It is currently part of the preliminary requirements for that money.

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