2012 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
Securing as much funding as possible for the Children First Trust Fund.
The Children First Trust Fund (CFTF) is designed to provide needed funding to twelve state agencies in Alabama. The agencies use CFTF dollars to fund new and innovative programs aimed at prevention. The CFTF funds come from the National Tobacco Settlement and must be appropriated each year.
Raise Revenue for the state by increasing tobacco taxes to slightly below the national average ($1.42/pack of cigarettes).
Currently, the state is in desperate need for some sort of revenue measure to give relief to the General Fund budget which funds numerous state agencies that affect the well-being of Alabama's children and families. It has been estimated that this tax would generate $215 million dollars annually. The legislation calls the dollars generated through this tax to go to General Fund, the Children First Trust and tobacco cessation efforts. This would give immediate relief to the General Fund budget and would generate $98 million dollars for the Children First Trust Fund. These CFTF dollars would help twelve state agencies offer the programs and services needed for children while at the same time allowing for some of the General Fund dollars they use to currently support that action to be freed for other uses. Children First feels strongly that as our state budgets struggle we cannot allow funding for children's programs to be cut and this revenue measure can insure that does not happen.
HB 42/SB 71 which lowers the mandatory school age from 7 to 6 years of age.
Research has consistently proven that the earlier a child begins school the better equipped they are to perform academically and adjust socially; and, enrolling a child in school by 6 (first grade) will help to ensure he/she is ready for the challenges of second grade where they should be able to read simple sentences. Specifically, Alabama teachers report that children who do not enter school until they are 7 tend to experience more challenges academically and struggle with peer involvement. This initiative has been endorsed by The AL Dept of Education, The AL Assoc of School Boards, AL Education Assoc, AL Dept of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, Business Council of Alabama, Children First Foundation, Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools and the School Superintendents of Alabama.
Advocate for the continuation of the Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention.
This agency is the only agency in Alabama whose sole mission is to prevent problems before they occur on the lives of children. Children First feels strongly that this agency by funding effective programs at the ground level is effecting real change in the lives of children. Not only are lives changed but the state saves millions down the road by preventing child abuse and neglect.
Advocate for HIPPY Alabama and Pre-K to continue to receive the funding needed to support their programs.
Research has consistently shown that early education is vital to helping a child succeed later in their scholastic career. Both HIPPY and Alabama’s award winning Pre-K program perform this vital function.
Support the Private Judges Bill.
This bill would enable individuals involved in family court to contract with a private judge to hear their case. This not only would provide more immediate relief to children and families who could take advantage of this service but also provide relief to families seeking traditional court services.