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Judge favors group home for Ariz. boy who killed dad

by Felicia Fonseca – Dec. 21, 2012 09:57 PM
Associated Press

ST. JOHNS – An Arizona boy who was 8 years old when he killed his father and an adult family friend is on the verge of living a more normal life after showing significant improvement in recent months in his court-ordered treatment.

Read the entire article here.

Contact Washington DC to help Working Families

As the Fiscal Cliff deadlines loom, there are frenzied media reports about the negotiations and what’s at stake for us as Americans. One story that has been missing is a small percentage of the federal budget, but a huge life-saver for millions of American working families: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). There is a risk that the EITC and CTC would be cut if action isn’t taken.

Please take a moment to give a gift to working parents and their children by sending a message Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl and your congressman today.

 

Since 2009, nearly one-half million Arizona children have been lifted out of poverty because of the EITC and CTC. A parent working full-time at the federal minimum wage earns only $14,500 a year. Now imagine a single mom with two children trying to make ends meet on that income. Thanks to the CTC, this mom will receive $1,725 in a tax refund, more than she makes in a month. If Congress doesn’t protect the CTC, her tax credit would plummet to only $165. That would wipe out money for groceries, doctor’s visits or clothing. It’s no surprise that studies show that children who are helped by these tax credits do better in school and in life.

The EITC and CTC are also important to the local economy. Working families will spend money at the grocery store, retail shops, pharmacies, etc. Employers can maintain their workforce because lower-income employees will be able to afford child care and transportation to work.

Please contact your member of Congress and Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl before Friday and ask them to only vote for a budget deal that proects these credits. President Obama and Congressional leaders could possibly hammer out a deal before Christmas to avoid the Fiscal Cliff; send your message as soon as possible so our working families are part of the final deal.

Are Tax Credits Effective?

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Every year in Arizona, millions of dollars that would have gone to the state’s bottom line are spent elsewhere without annual oversight or performance review. Specifically, more than $300 million is automatically allocated to select beneficiaries each year through state tax credits with virtually no accountability to taxpayers.

Last week, the Joint Legislative Income Tax Credit Review Committee of the state legislature met and reviewed nine tax credits. Three of those were reviewed behind closed doors with no public information. None of those tax credits have reported performance measures for lawmakers to analyze or discuss.

For example, data show that tax credit funding for private schools grew 128% per student between 2000 and 2010. But during that same time, total state appropriations for public schools grew less than 1% per student (adjusted for inflation). These types of trends need to be discussed and considered by the legislature. Is this an effective use of our limited resources?

We need more transparency and a full public debate and vote on the value of each tax credit. The state budget is voted on every year. State agencies and programs have automatic sunset reviews every five or ten years. Tax credits, however, only get a minimal committee review every few years with no vote by the full legislature.

Read the Statement on Tax Credit Review from Dana Wolfe Naimark, President and CEO, Children’s Action Alliance: Tax Credits Need More Accountability.

Arizona Pre-K Enrollment

In Arizona, according to 2011 U.S. Census data, only 35% of 3 and 4 year old children were enrolled in preschool (chart),which is far below the U.S. average (47%) and one of the lowest in the country. These figures are based on Census surveys and include all types of early education programs.

2012 prek enrollment az and us

More Children Falling Through the Cracks

2012 prek enrollment az and usRecently, the U.S. Census released data from 2011 on school enrollment across the country. In Arizona, only 35% of 3 and 4 year old children were enrolled in preschool (chart),which is far below the U.S. average (47%) and one of the lowest in the country. These figures are based on Census surveys and include all types of early education programs.

The evidence is clear that children in quality early learning programs do better in school, are more likely to become proficient readers, and are ultimately more likely to graduate from high school. To maximize their learning, children need safe, reliable places to learn and grow. Unfortunately, many Arizona working parents cannot afford the cost of early education and the state has cut all funding to help parents afford quality programs. These budget cuts left over 4,000 children out of state funded preschool and more than 20,000 children out of child care assistance.

First Things First offers some early care and education scholarships for families; this year, 8,972 children younger than 5 were helped by these scholarships. But First Things First cannot begin to fill the gap for families left by dramatic state budget cuts to preschool and child care.

As CAA prepares for the 2013 Legislative session, we look forward to working with our state leaders to rebuild this critical component of a successful education system.

New KIDS COUNT Report

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Annie E Casey’s KIDS COUNT recently published a policy brief on a topic rarely discussed, but often experienced: Disengaged Youth — that is, youth who are neither in school nor employed. It’s an important problem, because a large body of evidence shows that such youth are more likely to face long term unemployment than their peers.

The percentage of youth in Arizona who are not enrolled in school and not employed is similar to the U.S. average and for that reason we have some optimism.

The report, Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity, lays out a few ways to help youth and young adults who end up disengaged.

  • A national youth employment strategy that streamlines systems and makes financial aid, funding and other support services more accessible and flexible; encourages more businesses to hire young people; and focuses on results, not process.
  • Aligning resources within communities and among public and private funders to create collaborative efforts to support youth.
  • Exploring new ways to create jobs through social enterprises such as Goodwill and microenterprises, with the support of public and private investors.
  • Employer-sponsored earn-and-learn programs that foster the talent and skills that businesses require — and develop the types of employees they need.

Click here to read the entire report.