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2015 Policy Priorities for the Arizona Governor, State Legislature and State Agencies

Girl in a classroomChildren’s Action Alliance invites you to join us as we stand up for policies and practices that create a brighter future for our children and a vibrant economy for Arizona.

Each year, the Governor and state legislature must enact a balanced budget that meets voter priorities for health, education, and security.

As Arizona faces a growing gap between projected revenues and the cost of current services, state lawmakers should:

  • Sustain investments in the safety net and health and education that prevent crisis and save on long-term expenses.
  • Support a fair and sustainable tax base that closes the gap between revenues and current services.

HEALTH

  • Restore KidsCare or other access to health coverage for children – even when they don’t have coverage through their parents’ jobs.
  • Strengthen consumer information and quality of kids’ health coverage in the federal Marketplace.
  • Streamline state application and enrollment policies so that qualified children can get covered through AHCCCS/Medicaid, including former foster youth.

EDUCATION

  • Improve early learning and workforce stability for families earning low incomes by expanding participation in child care assistance and updating implementation policies.
  • Invest in K-12 education to match resources with expectations for third grade reading success, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) achievement, and high school graduation.
  • Clarify the process for tuition waivers at Arizona universities and com-munity colleges so that more foster alumni can benefit from a college education.

SECURITY

  • Reduce long-term crisis costs and strengthen opportunities for children in struggling families by leveraging
    community resources and federal and state funding for the safety net and prevention strategies.
  • Sustain resources and reform for the new Department of Child Safety, juvenile courts, and community partners to protect children from abuse and neglect and connect them with safe and permanent homes.
  • Reduce the number of foster children entering group homes and treatment centers; increase the opportunity for children to live with relatives or foster families.Improve access to “independent living” services and supports so that older foster youth can successfully transition to adulthood.
  • Coordinate state agency procedures so that more children being raised by grandparents and other relatives have better financial security through cash assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, aka TANF).
  • Allow youth in the juvenile justice system to complete treatment up to age 19 to promote a safe and stable return to the community and to reduce the number of youth prosecuted as adults.

You can download the 2015 Policy Priorities for the Arizona Governor, State Legislature and State Agencies brochure here.

Is education on your kids’ Christmas list?

I have never seen “more school” on any kid’s holiday wish list, but there are few things that are more wish-worthy.

Without an education, kids couldn’t write their list to Santa. They couldn’t read the instructions for their new games. They couldn’t even count their presents under the tree.

Dear Santa smallFortunately, you appreciate the value of a good education and that’s why I am grateful for your support. Children’s Action Alliance is busy preparing for the Legislative session so we can help give the gift of education to every child in our state.

When the new legislature begins in January, CAA will be calling on lawmakers to:

• Improve early learning and workforce stability for families earning low incomes by expanding participation in child care assistance and updating implementation policies.

• Invest in K-12 education to match resources with expectations for third grade reading success, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) achievement, and high school graduation.

• Help more foster alumni achieve higher education through tuition waivers at Arizona universities and community colleges.

We can’t do this without your financial support. By making a donation to Children’s Action Alliance, you are making it possible for CAA to be Arizona’s leading voice at the Capitol and in the community for children.

Donating today is not just a gift to CAA – it’s a lasting gift of education to Arizona’s children and families.

I look forward to the day when all kids in Arizona have more gifts than they need. In the meantime, thanks for your support and partnership.

Sincerely,

Dana first name only

Dana Wolfe Naimark
President and CEO

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Every child deserves a place to call home

In this season of giving and family traditions, almost 17,000 children in our state are living in foster care without a permanent family. For them, the holidays can be lonely and the upcoming New Year can be frightening rather than exciting.

Hispanic family smallThanks to your help, CAA has been working with the new Department of Child Safety (DCS) to put critical improvements into place to protect children from abuse and neglect and to reduce the need for foster care. But there is still much more to be done.

With your contribution today, CAA’s voice for children will be strong in January when we call on the Legislature to:

• Reduce long-term crisis costs and strengthen opportunities for children in struggling families.

• Sustain resources and reform for DCS, juvenile courts, and community partners to protect children from abuse and neglect and connect them with safe and permanent homes.

• Reduce the number of foster children entering group homes and treatment centers and increase the opportunity for children to live with relatives or foster families.

• Improve access to independent living services and supports so that older foster youth can successfully transition to adulthood.

I look forward to the day when all kids in Arizona have a forever home and a family to share holiday celebrations. In the meantime, thanks for your support and partnership.

Sincerely,

Dana first name only

Dana Wolfe Naimark
President and CEO

donate blackbaud button

How do you gift-wrap health care for kids?

How do you gift-wrap health care for every Arizona child? And where would you find a tree that’s big enough to put it under?

If only those were our most pressing problems!

big treeUnfortunately, thousands of Arizona children don’t have health insurance, which results in them missing check-ups, hearing and vision screenings and consistent care from a family doctor and instead spending long hours of waiting in the emergency room when an untreated cold turns serious.

With your help, we can work toward every infant… toddler… preteen… tween… and teenager having coverage they need to grow up healthy and ready to succeed. With your help, Arizona won’t have the nation’s third highest rate of uninsured children.

By making a donation to Children’s Action Alliance, you are contributing to Arizona’s leading voice for children.

Through your support of CAA, you are giving the gift of a better future to children throughout the state. Without the batteries, ribbons and bows, you will be helping shape public policy so their future is filled with opportunity and health. That is a long-term gift that will provide lasting rewards for this generation and the next.

I look forward to the day when all kids in Arizona have more gifts than they need. In the meantime, thanks for your support and partnership.

Sincerely,

Dana first name only

Dana Wolfe Naimark
President and CEO

donate blackbaud button

News from the Department of Child Safety

child cryingWhen the legislature and Governor Brewer created the new Department of Child Safety they appropriated funding to add new staff so that children could be protected and connected with permanent homes. It is worth celebrating that as of October 31, the Department had filled all of its direct child safety specialist positions. In January of this year, there were 1,190 child safety specialists. Nine months later there are 1,408.

A report released by the Department of Health Services reminds us how crucial these professionals are who carry life and death responsibilities. Although total child deaths statewide fell between 2012 and 2013, fatalities due to abuse and neglect increased from 70 in 2012 to 92 in 2013. The Child Fatality Review Program recommends sufficient funding for child care vouchers so that parents don’t have to turn to unqualified or unsafe caregivers.

For more data about the well-being of Arizona’s children, see the latest CAA charts and dashboard here.

Resources for staffing, technology, and services are needed to sustain progress and reforms in child safety. The Department of Child Safety (DCS) is requesting a net increase of $24 million in their general fund budget to address issues related to creation of the new agency and more children needing services. This includes costs for more children in foster care, a shift of $4 million into services to prevent the need for foster care, and $20 million to continue the phase in of a new data system. The current case management system is decades old and doesn’t give caseworkers easy access to the information they need.

Children’s Action Alliance will be calling on partners and supporters across the state to urge the new Governor and legislature to keep the commitment to protect children.

Click here for the DCS summary of their budget request sent to Governor Brewer in the fall.

Congratulations to the Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors on another successful Statewide Summit!

December 2014 Grandparent Ambassadors Summit collageThe Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors (AZGA) hosted their 4th Annual Grandparent Ambassador Summit on Saturday and it was another tremendous success. With nearly 100 grandparents and more than a dozen key service providers and state agencies participating, grandparents and other kinship caregivers got to participate in educational workshops, sign up with local and statewide agencies to connect with available resources, and advocate with a unified voice on behalf of all kinship families across Arizona.

And, while grandparents were connecting and learning new skills, their grandkids had a blast in the Kroc Center’s day camp program. The keynote speaker helped these extraordinary grandparents understand the behavior and emotions they see in their grandkids who have been through traumatic experiences. A distinguished panel shared ideas about policy changes we can work toward. Rounding out the day, participating grandparents signed a petition to Congressional budget leaders and wrote personal letters to Governor-Elect Ducey and their state legislators.

Special thanks to the amazing Vickki Gray and Laura Jasso and their fabulous planning committees for putting the summit together. We’d also like to thank our sponsors who made this year’s Summit possible: Community Partnership for Southern Arizona, The Center for Economic Integrity, The Association for Supportive Child Care, Arizona’s Children Association, and QuikTrip.