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We Need You to Help Us Fight for Arizona Children

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As we approach a new year, it is important that we prepare to continue to fight for public policy that is good for Arizona children’s health, education and security. Your support is needed at a time when education budgets are still at pre-recession levels, children struggle in school and too many kids remain uninsured. Donate online today.

Thank you and Happy Holidays.

Your Help is Needed to Speak Out for Arizona Children

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We tell children all the time – dream big, work hard, and your dreams will come true someday. But without the basics like quality education, health care and security, “someday” never becomes a reality for too many Arizona children.

Did you know that in Arizona:

  • More than 1 in 4 children live in poverty;
  • More than half of all third graders can’t read proficiently; and
  • More than 18,000 abused and neglected children live in foster care – enough to fill every seat in the Phoenix Suns’ arena.

We need your support now to change these startling statistics and make dreams come true for so many children like those in this video

Together, we can make the new year a brighter one for children and families. Any amount will help us move forward on key policy and budget issues important to children and families. Donate today or tomorrow, and our Board of Directors will match 50% of every online donation.

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New Data Shows Foster Care Children Lag Behind Peers in Academic Success

A newly released study finds Arizona students in foster care fare worse academically than their peers, even those who are considered to be at risk because of other factors,  such as poverty, language barriers and learning disabilities.

The report, Arizona’s Invisible Achievement Gap, highlights a critical issue affecting foster children: disruptions have a devastating impact not only in their family lives, but also on educational progress that can affect them through adulthood. Using data from the 2012-2013 academic year, the report also found that only 61% of foster students met or exceeded reading standards, while only 40% met or exceeded standards in mathematics and graduation rates for foster children are 33%, less than half the state average (78%).

With nearly 19,000 kids (and rising) in Arizona’s foster care system, education needs of these students should be a high priority.  Some  obstacles to educational success for children living in foster care will be addressed through provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)  signed into law by President Obama last week. Provisions in the law include:

  • Immediate enrollment in a new school, even if prior academic records are delayed, the new school must contact the previous school right away to obtain the student’s files;
  • Designating a local point of contact for child welfare agencies that will act on foster care students’ behalf to ensure a seamless transition of records and services; and
  • Compiling data through the state that tracks foster care students’ achievement on an annual basis to track success.

Arizona 3rd Worst in Cuts to K-12 Education 

Arizonans will not be surprised by a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing that  Arizona is still stands out in cuts to K-12 education funding. Adjusting for inflation, Arizona is again third worst in the nation for cuts to state school spending per student from 2008 to 2016.  Only two states had deeper cuts than Arizona —  Alabama and Oklahoma. 

Even as the state’s economy improves, K-12 schools are struggling to help students succeed with far too many vacant teaching positions, outdated textbooks and technology, crowded classrooms, buildings desperately needing repair, and children who come to school hungry and sick.  Arizona schools have 14.9% less state funding per student this year than 2008.  The report highlights the link between state tax revenue and school budgets:  four of the five states with the biggest cuts in general school funding  — including Arizona — have also cut income tax rates in recent years. 

Voters, parents, business leaders, and community groups are still asking our elected leaders to chart a long term path for sustainable investments.  Governor Ducey is urging voters to pass Proposition 123 in May. This ballot measure would authorize larger withdrawals from the State Land Trust for 10 years to help school budgets keep up with rising costs.  It does nothing to restore more than $850 million in other funding that has been cut annually and leaves the state without a funding source for inflation after ten years.  The lack of funding for public schools will get even worse if state lawmakers continue on their path of cutting income taxes and growing tax credits.

2015-12-10 updated prop 123 chart

Annual Child Fatality Review Finds Fewer Deaths, But More Resources Needed

The Arizona Department of Health Services’ Child Fatality Review Team recently released its annual review of child deaths in the state, indicating that while the overall mortality rate in 2014 had dropped from the previous year, there are still too many Arizona children whose lives could have been saved.

In total, 834 Arizona children died last year, most of natural causes (disease, prematurity, etc.).  The number of children who died from maltreatment, including abuse and neglect, was 75 in 2014 – down from 92 in 2013.  According to the report, 100% of these deaths are preventable.

For the children who died from maltreatment, the analysis shows:

  • 79% of the victims were under the age of 5
  • Substance use or abuse was linked to three quarters of the deaths
  • Blunt force traumas, suffocation, drowning and motor vehicle crashes accounted for 65% of the deaths
  • Fewer than half of all deaths (43%) involved the child’s mother or father
  • 48% of these deaths involved families with prior case histories with a child safety agency (Arizona, Tribal or other state); of these, 11 had open cases

canstockphoto0317077The Team made a number of prevention recommendations, some of which include: providing more funding for child care assistance programs so low-income working parents do not leave children home alone; sufficient resources for the Arizona Department of Child Safety; expanded public awareness programs for families to understand child abuse and neglect laws; substance abuse treatment programs for parents and families; and home visitation services to provide support to at-risk families.

As we head into 2016, Arizona can make a commitment to help families provide their children with a safe, healthy environment to live, learn and grow up.

The full report is available here.

Community Groups Host Tucson-area Forum on Early Childhood Education, Poverty

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Join Children’s Action Alliance and our community partners for a community forum on early childhood education and poverty this week in Tucson. Everyone is welcome to attend this town hall discussion, as well as join elected officials in meaningful Q and A on these important issues.

WHERE: YWCA 525 Bonita Avenue, Tucson, AZ
WHEN: Thursday, December 3
6 pm – 8 pm (space is limited, please arrive by 5:30 pm)
WHO: Elected officials, including state legislators, city council members and mayor of Tucson

Scientific research has found a child’s brain develops most rapidly before the age of 5 and poverty can have a profound and life-altering effect on young children.

Other issues affecting struggling families with young children:

• The cost of child care, which can take up half or more of a family’s budget, particularly if there is more than one young child in the household.
• Lack of affordable child care can put families in dangerous situations, where a young family member is forced to care for younger siblings while parents work or be left alone to care for themselves.
• About one-third of the children who enter kindergarten in Arizona do not have the fundamental skills necessary to succeed in school; by grade 4, many are still behind.

The event will be held town hall style. Please see the attached flier for details and event sponsors.

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