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Florida Nurses Condemn Rejection of Child Abuse Prevention Funds

Press Release Press Release, 7/22/11

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For Immediate Release
July 22, 2011

“Politicians Place Ideology Ahead of Needs of Florida Families”

Florida’s leading organization of registered nurses today sharply criticized a decision by Florida lawmakers to reject more than $50 million in federal child-abuse prevention money, a decision they said could cause substantial harm to Florida children.

Several media reports this week said that state lawmakers had refused to accept the funds because of linkage to the national healthcare law passed last year, and because it is also linked to a child abuse prevention program administered by the Health Families program.

Further, rejection of the funds could also cost the state an additional $100 million in block grant funds, according to press reports.

But the financial loss alone pales when compared to the potential consequences for protecting Florida children, said RN leaders of the National Nurses Organizing Committee-Florida, an affiliate of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union and professional association of registered nurses.

Calling the loss of funds “terrible,” Sharon Flynn, RN at Community Hospital of New Port Richey  warned, “We are letting our legacy, which is a high risk population, fall through the cracks.”

“Rejecting $50 million for Healthy Families Florida is just the latest example of Tallahassee politicians putting misplaced ideology before the needs of Florida’s families,” said Michael Boccio, RN at Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte.

“It is hard to understand what these legislators think our state can gain by rejecting our share of federal funding,” Boccio said.

Child abuse is a growing national epidemic. Over three million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States; however, those reports can include multiple children, according to the national non-profit group Childhelp. Almost five children die every day as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4.

Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2007 is $104 billion.

NNOC Florida called on Florida legislators to immediately reverse their actions and reinstate funding for child abuse prevention. It would be nice to know who is accountable for this so we can open a dialogue with them,” said Flynn.

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