Over the past decade, the state of Florida has emerged as a leader in advancing conservative policies, and experienced the kind of economic growth and population increase that is the envy of many other states across the union. But a state is only as strong as its families. The cultural and economic pressures that make it harder for families to have children and raise them in the manner they deem best affect families in Florida, despite the impressive steps the state has already made towards making the Sunshine State the best state in America to raise a family. In Florida, the fertility rate has dropped 18% over the past decade-and-a-half; marriage rates have fallen by 20% over that same time. A meaningful pro-family agenda must seek to make it easier to have and raise kids.
The next step to build off Florida’s economic success and leadership is to create a slate of policies aimed at making family life easier and more affordable. In a new YouGov survey commissioned by the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) and the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), parents make clear that they are looking for policies that will make raising kids a little more achievable—and will empower parents against the cultural forces that challenge family life. And our sample of Florida residents suggests that many of these policies are popular across the political spectrum.
This report offers five policies for Florida lawmakers to consider. Each of these areas don’t just poll well, as our survey data show, but—if constructed the right way—can meaningfully advance the goal of making it easier to start and raise a family. The five pro-family policy priorities highlighted in this report are:
Reorient school curricula to focus on long-term well-being
72% of Florida respondents favor teaching the ‘Success Sequence’ in public schools
We asked Florida residents in our survey their opinion of a “proposed requirement that all public schools teach the ‘Success Sequence,’ the idea that young people who graduate from high school, work full-time, and marry before having children are more likely to avoid poverty and be financially successful later in life.” We found: 72% either somewhat or strongly supported it, including 88% of self-identified Republicans, 76% of Hispanics, and 67% of parents.
Empower parents to better protect their kids online
Three-quarters (74%) of Florida respondents support age verification to access porn
The backlash against Big Tech has led many policymakers to re-evaluate what principles should be governing their approach to legislation. But beyond the ongoing philosophical realignment about tech’s place in society, prioritizing strong legislation that gives parents more power is a winning political issue that cuts across partisan lines.
Expand early childhood options and support for all parents
79% of Floridians support action on child care affordability
A universal, or near-universal, state child tax credit could support new parents to a broad degree. Multiple polls have found plurality of new moms say that their “ideal” situation would be to work have one parent part-time or stay home, especially when their children are young. Paid leave programs tied to work leave out those moms, just as expanded child care subsidies leave out those families who prefer to have a relative or neighbor watch their child. Because Florida has no state income tax, state lawmakers would have to think creatively about building out a system of direct financial support for families with young children. But a state CTC, or child benefit, would give parents more money in their pocket to determine the work-life balance that is best for them.
Strengthen Supports for Pregnant Women and Babies
Three-quarters of Florida respondents want more action to support pregnant and new moms
Lower fertility is tied to lower marriage rates; and children who grow up to unmarried parents are much more likely to grow up in poverty. Restoring a culture of marriage, particularly for working-class Floridians, would be the most important way to welcome more children and ensure they are supported with the resources they need to thrive.
But accompanying these efforts, public policy can support low-income women facing unexpected pregnancies, particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case and Florida’s recently-passed “Heartbeat Protection Act.” In addition to the direct support discussed above, targeted support for low-income parents received high marks across the political aisle.
Create a state commission on the well-being of men and boys
73% of Florida respondents support a state panel on the crisis facing men
A state Commission on Men and Boys would offer a focused, serious effort to rejuvenate policy and cultural efforts aimed at helping at-risk young men mature into their place in society. In general, there was broad support for this kind of concerted action. Roughly three-quarters of Florida adults somewhat or strongly supported the proposal of a new “state commission that would study the well-being of boys and men, and promote policies that encourage healthy masculinity and responsible fatherhood.”