This week, state Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, and state Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Deltona, teamed up to showcase their proposal to “provide funds and services to parents and children who have a little-known but significant condition: fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD. FASD is an umbrella term that describes the range of serious adverse effects that can occur in an individual who was prenatally exposed to alcohol.”
The bills that Berman and Barnaby introduced would “define a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as a developmental disability, opening up critical home and community-based services to a struggling community.”
The legislators filed their bills last month. While Berman’s bill has not been referred to any committees, Barnaby’s proposal was sent to the House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee, the House Appropriations Committee and the House Health and Human Services Committee.
“It’s not often Democrats and Republicans find common ground on social issues, but here, we have,” Berman said. “Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are the most common developmental disability in the western world, with estimates showing nearly 1 in 20 U.S. schoolchildren having an FASD. One 2015 review found adolescents affected by FASD are 19 to 40 times more likely than their peers to become involved in the juvenile justice system. Our legislation recognizes these statistics, delivers services to the FASD community, and raises awareness so we can begin to prevent and treat FASD more thoroughly.”
“I am both proud and honored to be a voice for those with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. According to the CDC, FASD impacts as many as 1 in 20 in the US – 2.5 times the rate of autism. In Florida alone, over 11,000 babies annually are prenatally exposed to alcohol and born with FASD. These children suffer from a spectrum of developmental disabilities, which may include physical, mental, behavioral and learning disabilities associated with lifelong implications. With that being said, I am so pleased to work with Senator Berman on this very important and significant piece of legislation that will help countless numbers of Floridians. It is time that we as legislators stand up to raise awareness for FASD and begin providing these children and their families access to state programs and services that they so desperately need,” Barnaby said.