Our children in the state of Florida

OUR CHILDREN: AN IMPORTANT TOPIC

One in four Florida children lives in poverty believe it or not.  If you find yourself in this situation, please hire a family law attorney in Pinellas County offering free consultations.  Through it’s Children’s Legal Services Campaign, 100 percent of gifts go directly to Children’s Legal Services grants used to provide legal aid for learning disabled children in need of testing and educational services required by law; for children suspended from school or placed in the hands of juvenile justice authorities or law enforcement for behavior problems directly related to a disability; for older foster children who do not receive mandated independent living skills training and are simply removed from state care; for disabled children improperly denied federal disability benefits; or foster children denied health care or mental health treatment ordered by the state.

Through its Improvement in the Administration of Justice Grant Program, the Foundation has funded the Innocence Project of Florida that, since 2004, has helped free 15 innocent men while advocating for systemic changes to prevent future wrongful convictions.  The Foundation has helped victims of fraud, helped families trying to stay together, and saved family homes from foreclosure.  But finances at the Foundation are seriously strained.  Here’s how Nancy Kinnally, director of communications at the Foundation, describes the current financial crisis: “Revenue from Florida’s Interest on Trust Accounts (IOTA) program has averaged about $5.5 million annually since the recession, compared to about $43.5 million in the five years preceding the recession.”

Although the Federal Reserve announces a quarter-point increase in the federal funds rate in December, banks have not raised their deposit rates as anticipated, and IOTA revenue has not increased as the Foundation has hoped it would.  In an effort to stabilize grand funding through next year, the Foundation has drawn down its reserves, its building fund, its set-aside disaster relief funds, and the interest on its endowment funds, as well as utilizing the Bar’s $6 million dollar loan.

The foundation has cut grants to its legal aid grantees by 78 percent since 2010 because of the IOTA revenue decline, and is now informing them that its general support grant program will not continue in its current form beyond 2017.  Florida Bar individuals can support the Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, by making an investment in access to justice at the following link: click here.  Remember, that true holiday joy does come from giving.  Give justice their holiday season.  It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.