Commission on Marriage and Family Support Initiatives

Speaking with One Voice for Children -
The Florida Agenda

The well-being of children and families is the highest priority in Florida and public policies will be established to be consistent in their support of this priority. The key indicators of well-being are:
All of Florida's children are healthy, safe and ready to learn at every age.
All of Florida's families are stable, nurturing and economically self-sufficient.
All of Florida's communities are supportive of families raising children.
Healthy Children. The benefits of beginning and living a healthy life are enormous and long lasting. The consequences of beginning life unhealthy can be lifelong and costly. To safeguard our health, we need accessible and affordable health care. Particularly important is a healthy start prenatally and from birth. Children should have the supports and services necessary to live full, healthy and productive lives.

Children Safe in their Families and Communities. The quality of life in our communities depends upon feeling and being safe in our communities. Children are among our most vulnerable citizens. They require protection and nurturing to help them grow up to become responsible, law-abiding and nurturing adults.

Children Ready to Learn and Succeed in School. Quality early education and care beginning in the infancy period should be affordable and accessible for all children. It is the first and crucial step in creating a well-educated work force and citizenry to help build better lives for Florida's families and a prosperous economy for Florida as a whole. Our best investment is to capitalize on the capacity for young children to learn in the early years and to teach our children how to live and work in our rapidly growing and complex world. At the outset, all children should enter school ready to succeed and continue to succeed as they grow.

Stable and Nurturing Families. Florida reflects a society comprised of four generations - children, parents, grandparents and super-elder great-grandparents. For all Floridians to participate fully in society, families need to thrive - children need to be able to grow to full potential and elders need to feel secure and believe they are needed.

Economically Self-Sufficient Families. Low-income and/or single parent families, some with inadequate or unsafe housing, face extraordinary challenges in providing the basic necessities of life. Such families are vulnerable to an array of social and economic challenges: unemployment, crime, teenage pregnancy, lack of an adequate education and the need for public assistance. Eliminating poverty is an initiative likely to strengthen our communities in many ways, not just economically.

Supportive Communities. For Florida's communities to thrive and for children to grow up to become contributing adults who take their personal and community responsibilities seriously, a stable neighborhood environment that nurtures and supports the four generations represented in our communities is essential.

The key evidence-based policies and practices that are required to achieve well-being are:
All children and families in Florida have access to health care.
All children and families in Florida have access to home-visiting services.
All children and families in Florida have access to affordable, quality early education and care services.
All children and families in Florida have access to integrated health, economic and family support services.
All communities in Florida, in partnership with the state are supportive and provide for a comprehensive, integrated continuum of natural, primary and specialized supports and services that are available to all children and families.
All public and private employers in Florida promote family-friendly employment practices and a livable wage for all people who work.

The new commission will take a broader approach to strengthening families by detailing comprehensive statewide strategies for Florida to promote safe, violence-free, substance-abuse-free, respectful, nurturing and responsible parenting; including connection or reconnection of responsible parents, both mothers and fathers, with their children.

The Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives will each appoint six members to the commission by August 1, 2003, with at least half of the commissioners representing the private sector.
Appointees must have experience in one or more of the following areas: business, workforce development, education, health care, treatment of substance abuse, child development, and domestic violence prevention. Members of the Commission on Responsible Fatherhood will be considered for appointment to the new commission. The first meeting of the new commission will be held no later than October 1, 2003.  Report on Fathers