The Florida Pregnancy Support Services Program, through a network of 105 pregnancy support centers throughout the state, provides pregnancy support services to women and their families. These centers are local, non-profit organizations that provide assistance to women and men faced with difficult pregnancy decisions. In addition to free pregnancy tests, centers offer services such as counseling, referrals, material support, training, and pregnancy and childbirth education to pregnant mothers as they prepare to parent or place their babies for adoption.
The program was created in 2005 and the Florida Department of Health has received an annual appropriation of $2 million for operational expenses since its inception. In the 2016-17 budget year, the appropriation was increased to $4 million and proviso language expanded the program to include women’s wellness services.
HB 41, sponsored by Representative Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa), and SB 444, sponsored by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville), codify the Florida Pregnancy Support Services Program in Florida statutes and defines program requirements including background screenings for staff and volunteers, current and accurate informational materials, and contract management through the Florida Department of Health. In a November 13, 2017, letter, Michael Sheedy, FCCB executive director, urged legislative support for the proposal.
HB 41 has passed its committee of reference and is scheduled to be heard by the full House of Representatives this week. Please take action now and urge your state representative to vote ‘yes’ on HB 41.
SB 444 is being heard by its first committee of reference on Wednesday, January 10 at 4:00 pm. If your state senator serves the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services you will also be prompted to send him or her a message urging support for the bill.