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Legislative session a banner year for children

With the legislative session now over, local children’s advocacy groups are calling it a banner year for children.

Regardless of which bills ultimately are approved by the governor, the fact that so many measures relating to children were considered in the session speaks volumes, children advocacy groups are saying.

Here are several of the bills relating to children that were being monitored during the session by the Children Campaign Legislative Connection (CCLC), an organization that initiates systemic reform through responsive and responsible public policy.

HB 89 – childcare: aimed to expand healthcare eligibility to legally residing children and clarified that undocumented immigrants were excluded from eligibility for optional Medicaid payments or related services.

HB-5101 – Medicaid: would, among other things, provide procedures for appeals by applicants for public assistance, assign the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) authority for hearing certain appeals and exempt certain agency hearings relating to Medicaid from uniform rules of procedure hat require such hearings be conducted by an administrative law judge.  Or, as CCLC more succinctly put it, HB-5101 “conforms statues to the funding decisions related to the Medicaid Program.”

HB-293 – confidently of juvenile records: aimed to close the loophole that allow juvenile misdemeanor records to be seen by the public, regardless of whether the child is simply charged or found guilty of a crime.

SB 590 – adoption: redefined the terms of “abandoned” or “abandonment” and “parent” as well as revised the circumstances under which adoption consent was valid, binding and enforceable.  It also required that a court determine, under certain circumstances, whether a change of placement of a child was in the child’s best interest, rather than whether the change of placement was appropriate.

SB-314 – juvenile justice: sought to limit the circumstances under which a prosecutor could transfer a juvenile to adult court, a process known as direct file, according to the CCLC.

HB-604 – mental health: would, according to CCLC, allow every county to set mental health courts and expand eligibility for the veterans’ courts.

HB-599 – child welfare: would, among other things, extend court jurisdiction to age 22 for young adults with disabilities in foster care and provide conditions under which a child could be returned home with in-home safety plans.

SB-0386 – expunction: would, according to the CCLC, expunge juvenile records upon adulthood so that youthful mistakes could not keep kids from future opportunities.

HB-545 – human trafficking: sought to build on the Safe Harbor Act by adding further protection for victims of human trafficking and expanding the penalties for perpetrators of trafficking.

The CCLC’s stated mission is to engage citizens to take action and hold elected leaders accountable to create public policy and enact legislation for the health, safety, education and wellbeing of Florida’s children.

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