An amendment introduced into Florida Senate Bill 2146 late in the second to last day of the 2011 Florida legislative session has passed both the House and Senate. The amendment creates a CBC Equity Funding statute (F.S. 409.16713) that will result in significant funding reductions for Brevard County’s child welfare system of care, effective July 1, 2011.

Language in the Equity Allocation statute was originally introduced by the Senate in April. The formula used to determine equity would take a percentage of core funding from Community Based Care agencies deemed “above equity” and distribute it, along with other additional funding to those CBCs deemed “below equity.” After much effort and advocacy, this proposed amendment, which would penalize high-performing agencies that have reduced the number of children in the formal dependency system, was thwarted.

Instead, CBC agencies reached consensus on a formula that would equitably provide sufficient funding for all. This language was subsequently endorsed and ratified by the Florida Coalition for Children’s board of directors. The FCFC and CBC agencies met with and briefed legislators, and were informed there was support for the consensus option; it was believed that the legislature would accept the proposal. However, late in the day on Friday, the original language was reintroduced, by amendment, and passed. Since learning of this, Brevard Family Partnership has worked diligently to oppose the amendment and divert the reduction and potential impact, to no avail.

The direct reduction will be approximately $750,000. An additional, indirect impact, based on SAMH and Medicaid reform, is expected to be approximately $300,000.

BFP is soliciting its staff and community partners and providers for input, asking for creative and innovative options and efficiencies that will minimize the impact to the children and families entrusted to our care, rather than the more obvious or traditional methods of absorbing reductions.  At this time, there is no talk of workforce reductions or eliminating programs or services until all other available options have been exhausted.