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Let’s Talk about Taxes: Free CAA Presentation on AZ Budget and Taxes

Let’s Talk about Taxes: Free CAA Presentation on AZ Budget and Taxes
with Karen McLaughlin, CAA Director of Budget and Research

Karen McLaughlinI’m often asked the question of why a child advocacy organization is concerned with Arizona’s budget and taxes. Well, we know that all of us in Arizona benefit from a fair tax system that meets the needs of children, families and our economy. How state dollars are collected and how they are spent both touch the lives of families in many ways. Child care, health care, education, child safety, juvenile justice…all of these vital areas are affected by changes in state funding.

I am available to come to your community meeting, church group, parent group, etc. across the state to talk about how Arizona’s budget and taxes affect you, your schools and your communities. The state budget is difficult to navigate and the big picture of our state’s tax system is complicated, but they are so important to each one of us.

If you are interested in having a better understanding of our state’s bottom line, please contact me at kmclaughlin@azchildren.org or (602) 266-0707 x207. I have a basic 45 to 60 minute presentation, but I can tailor it to accommodate your time frame and/or areas of interest.

Thanks to funding from the The Ford Foundation and The Annie E. Casey Foundation, CAA’s presentation is free of charge. I look forward to hearing from you to schedule something in your community. (Especially someplace north in the summer!)

Keep ’em coming!

PostcardThank you to the hundreds of Arizonans who have sent their postcard to Governor Ducey!  The response has been overwhelming – and we’re getting such great feedback that we are extending the campaign until June 1st.  We don’t want anyone to miss their chance to be a voice for Arizona children!

The legislative session is over, but we can’t let the grassroots protests about the bad budget decisions disappear. Write a short message to Governor Ducey today and join other Arizonans like you who want a better state budget for a brighter Arizona future. Together, we can keep the issues bubbling in the news and on social media – and building pressure for future change.

Governor Ducey and the state lawmakers who voted for the new state budget said they had to make painful cuts to child safety, education, and family security because putting the budget into structural balance is a top priority. But those same lawmakers immediately passed new tax cuts that will clearly and deliberately move the budget out of balance – without any plan to strengthen education for our future.

Now is our time to speak up loud and clear to tell our leaders to stop the tax giveaways and put more money into education. Join parents and grandparents, foster parents and teachers, seniors and millennials, business and community leaders, congregational committees and civic volunteers around Arizona to make our voices heard.

We’ll join with other community groups to deliver these personal messages to the Governor with the media watching.  Don’t wait. Send us your postcard by June 1st!

ASU offers early-start program for former foster care youth

Report: Too Many Arizona Kids Not In Foster Families

New Report: Every Kid Needs a Family

KIDS_COUNT_PR_foster_badge02-150pxIn its latest KIDS COUNT® policy report, Every Kid Needs a Family: Giving Children in the Child Welfare System the Best Chance for Success, the Annie E. Casey Foundation highlights the urgent need for sound policies and proven practices to connect more children with nurturing and supportive families.

On average, 14% of children in foster care in Arizona are living in congregate care settings like emergency shelters and group homes, an average of 2,101 each day. The Arizona Department of Child Safety pays on average $123 per day for each youth living in a group home while care in a licensed foster family costs $23 per day. As this population continues to grow, our state is spending ever increasing resources without better futures for Arizona children.

“Kids in congregate care are disconnected from family life,” said Dana Wolfe Naimark, President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance. “They miss out on routines like dinner around the table, having friends over after school or having private space to study or daydream.”

Research shows the secure attachments provided by nurturing caregivers are vital to a child’s healthy physical, social, emotional and psychological development throughout his life. Young people who do not grow up in families are at greater risk of being abused in group placements, and of being arrested. Despite this, many children – especially teens – are sent to a group placement as their very first experience after being removed from home.

Desaray, a former foster youth and a member of the Fostering Advocates Arizona Young Adult Leadership Board, lived with relatives after she was removed from her mother’s care. “I feel fortunate to have grown up in a family setting. I know people who lived in group homes, and they didn’t have the same support system that I continue to have. Their care ended when they turned 18, but I continue to have encouragement and guidance from my family,” said Desaray.

“Not only did I have a caring family setting, I was able to grow up with my brothers and sisters. Those bonds I have with my siblings are among the strongest in my life. I know that if I had ended up in a group home without them, I would have missed out on the relationships that helped me be successful.”

Last year, the State of Arizona made a commitment to the US Department of Health and Human Services to reduce the number of youth in congregate care in order to qualify for flexibility in its use of federal funds. DCS pledged to develop service reforms to prevent initial placement into congregate care, help step down children and youth in congregate care to less restrictive placements, and to reunify families. DCS must present those specific strategies within the next month.

Every Kid Needs a Family highlights the promising ways that state and local government leaders as well as policymakers, judges and private providers can work together as they strive to help children who are living in group placements. Arizona could adopt the KinFirst model as one policy tool to help more children stay with family members instead of living in group homes. KinFirst, now working in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, steps up and speeds up finding relatives and devoting robust resources to engage and support them.

“Arizona has a great opportunity to make changes that are good for taxpayers and beneficial for children and families,” Naimark concluded. “We’re ready to help the state move from talk to action.”

Report: Thousands of Arizona children living in group homes

See how your legislators scored in the 2015 Legislative Report Card

2014 leg scorecardEach year, the 90 members of our state legislature vote on dozens of bills that shape the education, health and safety of Arizona’s children and families. CAA believes that every lawmaker has the responsibility to vote for kids, and our legislators should be held accountable and measured on their performance.

That’s why we publish our annual report card on Arizona’s legislators, Who’s for Kids and Who’s Just Kidding? During the legislative session, Children’s Action Alliance analyzed and took a stand on the state budget and several bills. This report card focuses on five of them in the Senate and seven in the House. Together they cover the issues of child welfare, higher education for foster youth, budget and taxes and predatory lending. Take a look inside and see why each vote was important, how each legislator voted and key progress for kids during session.

Arizona Tops Nation in Higher Ed Funding Cuts & Tuition Increases

Arizona Worst in Nation for Higher Education Funding Cuts

AZ Cuts to Higher Ed the Worst in the Country

5-12-15sfp-infocusArizona stands out in higher education according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. But it’s not because of our innovative programs, cutting edge research, or amazing graduates. Between 2008 and 2015, Arizona had the largest percentage cuts to higher education funding per student and the highest percentage increase in university tuition. Both of these trends limit access to higher education and diminish Arizona’s workforce and economic competitiveness.

The report cites research showing that higher education attainment is associated with civic engagement, home ownership, business start-ups, and lower crime rates. But Arizona’s investment was already low in 2008 before the recession. By 2015 Arizona state higher education funding per student had dropped to 49th in the country – this low ranking doesn’t even count the large additional budget cuts that will go into effect July 1.

One of the trends linked to shrinking investments in higher education in Arizona and other states has been shrinking the tax base with tax cuts and tax credits – and no replacement revenue. Arizona lawmakers have enacted 25 years of consistent tax cuts; these cuts to the revenue side of the ledge have led to cuts on the spending side in all aspects of education – K-12, community colleges, and universities. Arizonans can expect higher education to remain on the chopping block in future years as Governor Ducey has signed into law several additional tax cuts that shrink revenue beginning this year.

You can read Years of Cuts Threaten to Put College Out of Reach for More Students to see how Arizona compares to other states and how cuts to state spending jeopardize our state’s future. The report was also featured this morning on the front page of The Arizona Republic, with reactions from legislators and Dana Wolfe Naimark, CAA President and CEO.