For more than 29 years, Children First has been the go-to organization to support and protect children in the Alabama legislature. Our goal is to precisely look at each piece of legislation introduced and to dissect the lasting effect it will have on Alabama children. Children First is interested in all aspects of child well-being, including mental health, foster care, nutrition, education, and overall health of a child.
Twenty-six years ago, Children First passed its first piece of legislation which increased the Alabama tobacco tax and established the Children First Trust Fund. This trust fund would ensure that around 40 million dollars of the Alabama Tobacco Tax Settlement money would support 12 state departments that directly work with children. Children First continues to advocate for these funds each year and asks that these funds continue to support children’s services across the state.
Since its inception, Children First has worked on countless pieces of legislation that improve the lives of Alabama children. Last year, Children First worked with legislators to introduce and pass two pieces of legislation, including the Guardian ad Litem bill (HB244, SB149 sponsored by Representative Crawford and Senator Givhan) and the cannabinoid bill (SB66, sponsored by Senator Melson). The Guardian ad Litem bill raises the payment for a Guardian ad Litem from $2,500 to $5,000. This bill is specifically important for Alabama foster children due to the relationships built with attorneys through their fight for parental stability. The other Children First bill was the cannabinoid bill which addressed the issue of hemp derivatives being put into candy and sold to minors. Before the legislation, there was no regulation for these candies. This legislation places the hemp candy products behind the sales counter and requires that the person who purchases the products be 21 and older. In addition, Children First watched and monitored over 125 other bills that directly impacted the lives of Alabama’s children.
This year, Children First’s legislative agenda will include issues related to children’s access to vaping products, mental health services for children, health insurance for those in the coverage gap, foster care, grandparent rights as well as continuing education and the passing of the Children First Trust Fund bill and many other bills that will arise throughout the session relating to children.
Executive Director, Katie Jeter, says “Children First is ready and prepared for this upcoming legislative session. We look forward to educating our lawmakers on all things related to Alabama children and the issues that surround them. Our goal is to make sure that all Alabama children have access to every opportunity that allows them to thrive throughout childhood and to become successful adults.”