2018 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
Protection of the Children First Trust Fund
In the next legislative session, the General Fund budget will face shortfalls as it has in recent years. We must continue to remind our legislators that as they look for revenue to offset the cost of government, the Children First Trust Fund must remain intact. It is a highly accountable fund that has to report exactly how many children and families are served by its dollars each year. No other budget in Alabama upholds those strict standards.
Advocate for Sufficient Funding for Agencies that Serve Children
The twelve state agencies that benefit from the Children First Trust Fund are also funded by either the General Fund or the Education Trust Fund. As budgets in Alabama become tighter, it is important to continue to educate lawmakers on what proposed cuts could do to the well-being of Alabama’s children.
Juvenile Justice Reform
In 2017, a group of state leaders, advocates and policymakers met to review the current state of Alabama’s juvenile justice system. The group found that many low risk juveniles were being placed in residential facilities instead of being served in their homes and communities. In addition, many juveniles are staying on probation longer than necessary. We are supporting legislation aiming to reinvest dollars into every county in the state so juveniles and their families who meet certain criteria can receive treatment in their homes. If passed, the new guidelines will save money and increase the likelihood that juvenile offenders will become productive Alabama citizens.
Health and Safety Checks for License Exempt Day care Centers
In Alabama, church day cares are not licensed by the state. We are currently supporting a bill which would not require church day cares to be licensed, but instead would allow the Department of Human Resources annually to visit church daycare centers and make sure certain health and safety needs are being met such as: fire inspection, health inspection and background checks of employees.
Support Possible Revenue Measures for the General Fund
Many ideas have been brought forward by state leaders to provide sufficient funding for the General Fund. Children First believes that without a healthy General Fund, the children of this state will not receive adequate services. The cuts to state agencies over the last several years have resulted in the elimination of programs for families across the state and, as a result, progress we have made to increase the overall well-being of our children has been diminished.
Continue to Advocate for Full Funding of the Medicaid Program
Currently, over 585,000 of Alabama's children depend on Medicaid for their healthcare needs. We will continue to educate the public and our lawmakers about who a Medicaid recipient in Alabama really is and to advocate for full funding for the Medicaid Agency through the #IamMedicaid campaign.
In 2016, and with the help of 50+ partner organizations, we held numerous press conferences, sent almost 6,000 emails to legislators, gained national attention and gathered pictures and information from Medicaid recipients in Alabama. We plan to build upon these previous efforts to make sure that policy makers understand the ramifications of their decisions regarding this vital program.
Monitor Possible Funding Need for the Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP)
CHIP, called the All Kids Program, in Alabama currently serves over 80,000 children. All Kids provides insurance for children whose parents do not meet the poverty threshold required to qualify for Medicaid. These identified families pay a small insurance premium in order to receive services. For the past several years, the federal government has fully funded this program. However, the funding has not yet been fully reauthorized for 2018. As a matter result, Alabama may have to contribute $60-$80 million dollars so that these children can continue to receive healthcare. We will be closely monitoring the situation at the federal level so we can advocate appropriately for any needed funding at the state level.
Monitor all Proposed Legislation that Could Impact Children and Families.