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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — On their first day on the job, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli  and Senate President Andy Gardiner highlighted a parenting program they’re pushing for.

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The program, called “It’s Time To Be A Parent Again,” is already underway in Brevard County. But with support from Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, and Gardiner, R-Orlando — both of whom represent parts of Brevard — the program will now be piloted in Polk, Osceola and Seminole counties.

Crisafulli and Gardiner were sworn in Tuesday to the two most-powerful positions in the Legislature, and their new roles could give added clout and attention to Central Florida.

The two lawmakers didn’t speak at a news conference on Wednesday, which was largely devoted to a description of the program by Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey and State Attorney Phil Archer, whose jurisdiction includes Brevard. But Ivey said Crisafulli and Gardiner were instrumental in allowing the program to reach farther.

“This program would be a countywide program versus having the potential to go statewide if it were not for our Senate president and our speaker of the House immediately seeing the value of it,” he said.

Speaking to reporters after the event, Crisafulli praised the program.

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“Certainly, I believe that an opportunity to empower parents is important,” he said. “The sheriff has been looking at this and working on it over the last six or eight months and has seen some results.”

“It’s Time To Be A Parent Again” is focused on giving parents a better idea of their rights in disciplining children — physically and otherwise — and other ideas for keeping kids out of trouble. For example, parents are allowed to ask questions of one of the county’s chain gangs in an effort to glean information on how to avoid their children suffering a similar fate.

The idea, Ivey said, is to prevent young people from becoming criminals in the first place.

“Our goal is to not only empower parents, but we believe that … by getting to a child before they get to us, we are able to keep that child from ever getting in trouble,” Ivey said. “If we can get to them as a juvenile and keep them from committing crime, there’s a very strong likelihood that as an adult, they will not commit crime.”

But other programs will also be needed to help prevent crime, though Ivey said discussions about those plans would come in the future. “This is not a one-step solution by any means,” he said.

(The News Service of Florida’s Brandon Larrabee contributed to this report.)

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