Florida TaxWatch Issues Report on Expanding Early Childhood Courts in the Sunshine State

On Thursday, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released “Expanding Early Childhood Courts in Florida,” a report focused on Early Childhood Courts (ECC) and how they impact vulnerable children.

In its report, Florida TaxWatch urged the Florida Legislature to expand the ECC system and identify a dedicated revenue source for ECC funding which will both better protect those in need and create significant taxpayer savings.

Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro weighed in on the report on Thursday.

“Early Childhood Courts are a proven success that not only work to protect Florida’s most vulnerable children, but better serve the long-term interests of our communities. As is clearly shown in the research presented by Florida TaxWatch today, an expansion of Early Childhood Courts in Florida would improve child health outcomes, increase successful family reunifications, and save taxpayers more than $100 million annually. In the upcoming 2021 Florida Legislative Session, lawmakers should ensure the future growth of this system and provide the stability it deserves with a dedicated funding source and a commitment to expansion to serve even more families and children in need,” said Calabro.

Florida Coalition for Children CEO Kurt Kelly, who served in the Florida House, also offered his take on the report.

“At the Florida Coalition for Children, we have seen firsthand the benefits of a multidisciplinary approach to solving issues in the child welfare system and the positive outcomes that evidence-based treatment provides. We thank Florida TaxWatch for this thoughtful analysis of the Early Childhood Courts system in Florida and join in calling for an expansion of this powerful tool to better protect our state’s children,” said Kelly.

Florida Network of Youth and Family Services President and CEO Stacy Gromatski said, “Early Childhood Courts have a proven record of generating positive outcomes for the children and families who need it most. Increasing access to and investment in these courts will not only save lives but ensure thousands of kids have the opportunities they deserve to live happily, learn, and grow. The Florida Network of Youth and Families Services thanks Florida TaxWatch for this significant report.”

FSU Center for Prevention & Early Intervention Policy Director Dr. Mimi Graham said, “We have known that Early Childhood Courts are effective in saving families and breaking the multigenerational cycle of maltreatment. Now we know from Florida TaxWatch that it’s not just good policy, it saves money too. It’s less expensive to do better for kids.”

Early Childhood Courts are specialized problem-solving courts that address child welfare cases involving kids under the age of three. These courts bring together multidisciplinary teams, specially trained judicial officers, and non-adversarial techniques to resolve complex cases involving legal, societal, and individual problems. Through evidence-based treatment and community accountability, ECCs provide tailored therapies to both improve the safety and well-being of the children involved and to repair the intergenerational nature of abuse, neglect, and violence among families.


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