The yearly Children’s Week at the Florida Capitol shifted into high gear on Tuesday. Literally hundreds of kids from all over the state jammed the courtyard between the old and new capitol buildings, the number of little people outside the halls of power significantly outnumbering the number of big people inside.
There was also a large number of children’s advocacy grownups with booths in the courtyard. Like Jade Hatcher. She’s education disabilities specialist with North Florida Child Development.
“We serve children ages zero to five in Madison, Wakulla, Liberty, Calhoun and Gulf counties,” Hatcher said. “We provide comprehensive early child development services in all those five counties.”
Occasionally, members of the legislature were seen wandering amongst the children and booths in the courtyard. Hatcher hoped what they were seeing and hearing would make an impression.
“Hopefully we can influence the legislators on how important early education is.”
In some cases, though, education isn’t enough. Sara Blumenthal is the volunteer recruiter for the Guardian Ad Litem program for Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit.
“This is our thirty-fifth anniversary and for 35-years in the state of Florida we’ve been making sure that children who have been neglected or abused have voices in the court and voices in the community,” Blumenthal explained. “And it’s really important that we focus on the children who can’t speak for themselves and don’t really have someone who is going to speak out for them and need that extra advocate; that person who is going to make sure they have a safe and happy home.”
Which, as nearly all child advocates readily attest, is the bare minimum that every kid needs and deserves.