As health care services in Florida face deeper cuts to their state funding, a network of crisis pregnancy centers has continued to maintain its $2 million in annual state funding, despite serving fewer patients and offering fewer services than either Planned Parenthood or Healthy Start.

According to a summary 2009-2010 report on the Florida Pregnancy Support Services Program given to The Florida Independent by the Department of Health, the state’s aim in funding the program has been to provide “support services to pregnant women in an effort to encourage them to continue their pregnancies to childbirth, whether that is to parent the child or have an adoption plan.”

According to the Department of Health report, the services provided by these centers includes “pregnancy testing, counseling and support services with the goal of childbirth and/or lifestyle counseling, referral services, education and training classes.” The program also provides “a toll free 24/7 staffed call center and a website to direct women to participating direct client service providers.”

In comparison to other groups that receive state funds to provide services such as “pregnancy testing” and “education and training classes” for expectant mothers, CPCs fall short in the number of women they are serving.

According to the Pregnancy Support Services Program report, during the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the program served a total of 17,628 clients.

The Pregnancy Support Services Program report also shows that a total of “54 agencies with 82 sites participate in the program.” Planned Parenthood provides its services at 24 Florida locations, while Healthy Start lists about 15 coalitions, or affiliates, in its annual report.

Planned Parenthood also provides services such as pregnancy testing and education services. Together, the 24 clinics serve about 80,000 patients each year. According to Judith Selzer of Planned Parenthood, those numbers are “pretty steady year to year.”

Healthy Start Coalitions in Florida also provide counseling and training classes for expectant mothers. CPCs frequently refer women to Healthy Start coalitions once a woman decides to move forward with her pregnancy. According to one of the organization’s reports (.pdf), in 2007 the coalitions served “111,989 pregnant women and 78,102 infants.”

Planned Parenthood and Healthy Start also provide significantly more services than CPCs.

According to a report from the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, every year the clinics deliver birth control to about 52,750 patients, “13,988 emergency contraception kits, nearly 20,000 pregnancy tests, more than 22,000 Pap tests, detecting and preventing possible cancers, more than 19,000 breast exams, helping alert patients to, possible cancers, more than 86,000 tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV education programs to more than 108,000 people.”

Healthy Start’s 2009 report shows that the “total number of services rendered for women and infants in 2007 was over 3 million (3,186,867). Services included care coordination, mental health counseling, parent education (SIDS, Shaken Baby, Safe Sleep), breastfeeding counseling, nutrition education, smoking cessation, childbirth education, and substance abuse counseling.”

The 82 state-subsidized CPCs reported that 97,778 services were provided in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Manuel Fermin, CEO of the Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade, explains that CPCs, in comparison to Healthy Start, “don’t have a big caseload of individuals” they work with.

Yet this year the state’s CPC network received $2 million — a fixed amount it has received each of the past six years. The state Legislature does not set aside funding for Planned Parenthood. The clinics receive some family planning dollars that are given to local governments. That amount was cut by almost $1 million this past year. One Planned Parenthood affiliate lost thousands of dollars for teen sexual health programs servicing young people in Palm Beach County this year because of the cut.

Florida’s Healthy Start Coalitions, meanwhile, lost $5.2 million dollars in state funding this year. According to a report, this funding reduction “could result in 14,468 fewer clients served” or “252,573 fewer services provided.” The coalitions were created to provide prenatal care services for at-risk mothers and health care services for children in their communities.

Fermin tells the Independent that his organization has been forced to greatly reduce staff and cut contracts with previous providers because of the reduction in funding. However, the amount of families “in crisis,” he says, continues to grow. Fermin says they “are overwhelmed with demand.”

“This will all eventually result in a long strain of consequences,” he warns. “We are setting ourselves up to fail.”

The Planned Parenthood report:

Planned Parenthood Florida Report

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