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Arizona Youth Partnership Board

TeenagersThe Arizona Youth Partnership Board is part of the Arizona Youth Opportunities Initiative (AYOI); a project of Children’s Action Alliance, and focuses on improving outcomes for young adults transitioning out of foster care.  The Board works in partnership with the Initiative to ensure young adults have a say in shaping policies, programs, and services for a successful transition to adulthood.  Youth who currently or formerly experienced foster care and are between the ages of 16 and 26 are eligible to apply for this select Board. (Guardian approval required for young adults under the age of 18.) 

Children’s Action Alliance is currently accepting applications for Board membership. You can download the application and complete it on-line, then save as a new document with your name in the title, and email to marrigo@azchildren.org.  Applications are being accepted starting March 3, 2014 and CAA will continue until the all of the 10 to 15 positions are filled.

Members of the Arizona Youth Partnership Board will participate in monthly board meetings, various trainings on services and supports available to youth transitioning out of foster care, presenting legislative testimony, speaking engagements, attending community events, developing an advocacy agenda, and event planning. Youth Partnership Board members receive a stipend for their work.

Being a member of the Youth Partnership Board means:

  • Making New Friends
  • Planning Events
  • Representing Youth Who Have Been In Foster Care
  • Building Your Resume
  • Speaking Your Mind
  • Learning Money Management and Saving For Your Future
  • Earning A Stipend

For more questions, please contact Meghan Arrigo, Manager of Arizona Youth Opportunities Initiative, at marrigo@azchildren.org or (602) 266-0707 extension 211.

 

Details of new child protection agency revealed in draft of bill

Arizona Youth Opportunity Initiative – Implementation Plan

In partnership with more than 30 community organizations and individuals, the Arizona Youth Opportunities Initiative developed a comprehensive plan to improve outcomes for young adults transitioning out of foster care. Using key data from our state-wide environmental scan, the plan outlines core strategies to provide opportunities and resources that assist young people in making successful transitions to adulthood.

Click here to view the plan.

Grandparents Stipend Update, New Child Care Analysis

Quick update on the Grandparents Stipend

We just wanted to let you know that SB 1346 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously yesterday! SB 1346 would provide $1.5 million in funding and change the rules so that more grandparents would receive a $75 monthly stipend to help support the grandchildren they are raising. Grandparents would qualify for the stipend if they don’t receive any other financial assistance, their grandchildren were placed with them by court order (CPS or guardians), and their income is below 200% of the federal poverty level.

This legislation has now passed it’s first two hurdles – it’s next stop is the Senate Rules Committee and then onto a vote by the full Senate. Stay tuned!


Child Care for Safe and Thriving Children and Families: A Win-Win Strategy

cropped Education photo final circle croppedThousands of working Arizona families need access to quality child care so their kids have safe places to learn and play. When parents don’t have that available, they often turn to inconsistent or inadequate care, or even leave their children at home alone. One of the ways we can strengthen families and prevent child neglect is to make sure children have a safe place to go to when their parents go to work.

Children’s Action Alliance is a member of BUILD Arizona, a coalition of children’s champions who are working together to enhance opportunities for all young children in Arizona. These champions include business leaders, public sector representatives, educators, health practitioners and others. We are working with state lawmakers on options to expand access to child care for the most vulnerable children. Our new fact sheet, Child Care for Safe and Thriving Children and Families: A Win-Win Strategy, highlights the need to fill gaps in available child care.

Quality child care keeps children out of harm’s way, meets a critical family need, reduces extreme stress for parents, promotes healthy development of children, and teaches moms and dads effective parenting strategies. Due to state budget cuts, the number of children in low-income working families participating in child care has dropped from more than 29,000 in 2009 to fewer than 7,500 in 2013. We know Arizona can do better in giving children this first step toward their educational success.

New Arizona Child Welfare Agency Director Vows To Fix The System

Legislative Latest – Stay Informed!

az capitol building 203State lawmakers have had a busy week with a lot of focus on children and families. Here’s the latest:

A Senate Committee Unanimously Supported Help for Grandparents Raising their Grandchildren (SB 1346)

Last month, some grandparents raising their grandchildren began receiving a monthly stipend of $75 per child. Unfortunately, this new stipend leaves out many grandfamilies who are not part of the CPS system and the funding is not enough to meet the need. SB 1346 would add $1.5 million to the existing funding and change the rules so that more grandfamilies will qualify. Grandparents would qualify for the monthly stipend if they don’t receive any other financial assistance, their grandchildren were placed with them by court order (CPS or guardians), and their income is below 200% of the federal poverty level. SB 1346 passed unanimously in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday and is scheduled to be heard in Senate Appropriations on Tuesday.

Work Group Tackles Legislation to Move CPS to a Separate State Agency

Governor Brewer has convened a small workgroup, chaired by her Chief of Staff, to develop the legislation that will create CPS as a new state agency. The workgroup is looking at a wide variety of issues about the structure and function of the new agency. Children’s Action Alliance had the opportunity to share ideas about the best ways to keep children safe and families strong. For now, the work on this bill is happening behind the scenes. Once it is drafted, it promises to take center stage.

The Senate Voted Unanimously to Bring Expert Advice to our Reform of CPS

The Senate passed SB 1386 to appropriate $250,000 to contract with an independent expert consultant to conduct an external review of CPS, to identify best practices in other states regarding the delivery of CPS and to make recommendations for improving the delivery of CPS in this state. This review can go hand-in-hand with the creation of the new state agency, helping Arizona develop the most effective policies to give every child a safe and permanent home.

Legislators Not Ready for Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards

Despite overwhelming public, educator and business-community opposition to a slate of bills designed to dismantle Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards, four of the six bad bills passed the Senate Education Committee yesterday. These bills would either eliminate the new Arizona College and Career Ready Standards or allow schools to opt out of them. We remain optimistic that, with continued community action, we can stop the campaign to dismantle these standards that the Arizona Department of Education voluntarily adopted a few years ago – and that a majority of Arizonans support.

Proposal to Drain Prevention Dollars from First Things First Goes Nowhere

State Representative John Kavanagh introduced HCR 2003. If passed by the legislature, this proposal would ask Arizona voters to require that First Things First spend one quarter of its annual budget on families who are in the CPS system. This bill tries to give state lawmakers a pass on their responsibility for funding and governing CPS. It ignores the fact that First Things First is already part of the solution helping families avoid the type of crises that lead to CPS involvement. First Things First has been ramping up its investment in family support services while the state legislature wiped out funding for child care, KidsCare, and assistance for struggling parents. Fortunately, this bill has not been scheduled for a committee hearing.

Welcome new CAA Board Members!

Children’s Action Alliance is proud to announce the addition of two new members to our Board of Directors: Janice E. Myers and Tempe City Councilman Corey Woods.

corey woodsCorey Woods was elected to the Tempe City Council in May 2008 and reelected March 2012. He also works for the Phoenix Union High School District as the Director of College and Career Articulation.In addition to his work, Corey is also an active community volunteer, serving as a Director on the Board of the Boys and Girls Clubs (Ladmo Branch), Kiwanis Club of Tempe, Tempe Community Action Agency, Tempe Schools Credit Union and the Arizona Town Hall.

janice meyersJanice Myers brings a wealth of financial experience to CAA. She is the Vice President of the Business Banking Group, Wells Fargo BBG Scottsdale. Previously she held executive positions at JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America. Janice has served in her community as a member of the Arizona Treasury Management Association and the Association of Financial Professionals.

In addition to celebrating two new members, CAA welcomes a new Chairman of the Board: Greg Wells, Vice President of Human Resources & Employee Development at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. Greg has served on the Board since 2011 and replaces outgoing chair Rhonda Anderson. Rhonda’s tireless dedication, keen insights and patient leadership style helped CAA grow in so many areas during her three years as Board chair. Thank you, Rhonda, from all of us for your stellar service and we’re grateful for your continued participation on the Board!

Child Care for Safe and Thriving Children and Families: A Win-Win Strategy

Parents without reliable, affordable child care may have to make the horrible choice to leave children home alone or in other inconsistent or dangerous situations when they have to go to work. This can contribute to lack of adequate supervision for children and a report of child neglect. Read this fact sheet to learn more.

Another Successful Leadership Academy

2014 Leadership Academy classThe 2014 Leadership Academy celebrated their final class last night as another group of child advocates move forward with their plans to improve children’s lives.

Over the last six weeks, participants in the Leadership Academy learned how to identify a problem they want to address, how to communicate it, how to collaborate about it, and how to use political systems to improve it. The class had some first-hand advice from education advocate Doreen Zannis, Representative Lela Alston and Representative Eric Meyer.

They took all of this knowledge and drafted an action plan. The group addressed a range of issues affecting children, such as reforming CPS, helping former foster youth find jobs, helping children with cancer, and changing organizational structures to better serve kids in need. This past Saturday, each participant presented their plan to a panel of seasoned advocates who provided feedback and advice. Special thanks to our panelists Susan Jacobs, Tim Schmaltz, Mary K. Reinhart, Madge Haynes, Elizabeth Swadener and Kris Jacober. We are excited to see how each participant moves ahead with their action plan and makes a difference for children and families!

This is the sixth year of the CAA Leadership Academy and the next class will start in January 2015. If you’re interested in applying, applications are made available on-line in November 2014 so stay tuned.

Congrats to a wonderful Leadership Academy!

Funding for the 2014 Leadership Academy was provided by:

Wells Fargo

The latest on Child Protection and Family Services

CPS EMERGENCY FUNDING

Yesterday, Governor Brewer signed an emergency funding measure that will provide the Division of Child Safety and Family Services (CPFS) with $5.7 million immediately to address the CPS crisis. This funding will allow the Division to add 192 new full-time staff (126 caseworkers and 66 others that will be supervisors, case aides, support staff, etc.) The plan is to phase in 38 caseworkers monthly starting now. This supplemental budget passed both the House and Senate unanimously last Thursday. Despite the fact that the bill did not fund prevention or intervention services, this is a good first step to addressing the critical problems in our state to keeping children safe. CPS reform and repair must begin with caseloads that are low enough to allow us to succeed in keeping children safe and families strong.

CARE TEAM PLANS FOR MOVING FORWARD

In December, Governor Brewer created the CARE Team in response to the announcement that 6,500 reports to CPS had gone uninvestigated. The Governor charged the team – chaired by Director Charles Flanagan – to investigate each one of these reports to ensure children are safe, as well as to assess the policies, processes and personnel of Arizona’s child protection system and make necessary recommendations for improvement.

Last Friday, the Brewer Administration released a CARE Team report that unapologetically admits that CPS caseworkers are overwhelmed with a growing workload and are unable to successfully do the job they value personally and professionally. It also emphasized the need for additional staff, better management training, improvements to the hotline, clarification of roles, services to keep children safe in permanents families, and more consistent, standardized procedures. The full report is available on-line.

The report focuses on the front end of the process from when a call comes into the CPS hotline until an investigation is closed. But based on overwhelming and compelling community input, the CARE team pointed out the need to re-think prevention and family support services. We appreciate your help in keeping the spotlight on this part of the process. We need more than thinking, we also need action so that fewer families ever need CPS in the first place.