Kimberly Dudley says she is grateful for the agency Healthy Start, which sent an educator into her home to help her get off drugs and prevent her kids from being shipped to foster care.
“If I didn’t have the program, I would be homeless with a premie,” said Dudley, 21, a Clearwater mother of two young children.
Now the program is in danger.
Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Health turned down a $4.9 million federal grant that already has helped 84 Pinellas County families and hundreds more statewide.
The department was forced to turn down the money after the Florida Legislature refused to accept it.
Some state lawmakers were upset because the program is connected to the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
“It’s unconscionable, unconscionable that we should return this money to Washington . . . and allow it to go to other states,” said state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston.
The federal government was poised to give the $4.9 million to programs around the state that provide in-home visits to parents in areas with high rates of premature babies, poverty, crime, substance abuse, joblessness, child abuse and other issues.
The in-home visits are designed to combat those problems by deploying professionals who teach parenting and other skills. Click on link above to read more.