CITIZENLink, a Focus on the Family-affiliated website, features a recent post that praises Florida legislators for accepting $2.5 million a year from the Affordable Care Act to fund the state’s abstinence education programs.
The state’s acceptance of the money has been controversial because state legislators have rejected other funds from the law. Most notably, the state has turned down millions for child abuse and neglect prevention, which could possibly lead to the state also losing federal education funds. Legislators claimed they were opposed to accepting that money because the state is in litigation with the federal government over the constitutionality of the law that appropriated it.
Thirteen abstinence education groups in the Sunshine State will soon see their bottom lines get a boost, thanks to the federal government.
Though the Democrats controlling Congress refused to pass a bill reauthorizing Title V — the 15-year-old block grant to states to provide abstinence education — advocates successfully lobbied them to include it as a rider on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2009.
Through the new Title V, Florida will receive $2.5 million a year through 2014; the Florida Department of Health plans to distribute the money through 13 grants of $150,000 apiece.
And Florida abstinence educators need the money, said Mary Anne Mosack, director of state initiatives at the National Abstinence Education Association. Last year, a state government official declared that only four sex-education curricula could be used—three of which were comprehensive, and the abstinence program listed was unavailable.
“When abstinence educators complained, they were told just to modify the curricula — while the state paid the comprehensive sex-ed groups,” she said.
Changing that edict will be the next step, Mosack said; with 22 true abstinence education curricula available, educators shouldn’t have to modify comprehensive sex ed materials for their audiences.
State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, recently criticized the Florida Legislature for its “hypocrisy” in accepting the abstinence education funds and not others.
Right now, a state health agency is working with the federal government to possibly receive child abuse and neglect prevention funds in the future. However, the agency will still require budget authority from the state Legislature.