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New Study Finds Parents’ Incarceration Has Major Impact on Kids

AECF Twitter postThe country’s “tough on crime” policies, with harsher prison sentences for offenders, have had a big impact on American families, including more than five million children whose parents are incarcerated. As a result of their parents’ absence, these kids are more likely to experience poverty, homelessness, hunger and emotional distress. These effects can be lasting, even lifelong.

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families and Communities, proposes solutions and calls for policies and practices that prioritize the needs of children whose parents are jailed, whether for short periods or long sentences.  In Arizona, 138,000 children are affected by mass incarceration. For these kids, having a parent behind bars can be as traumatic as abuse, domestic violence and divorce. Reform proposals should consider better solutions to the multiple problems facing the children of incarcerated parents.

In this report you will find recommendations for how judges, community organizations, cities and state governments can:

  • Ensure children are supported while parents are incarcerated and after they return;
  • Connect parents who have returned to the community with pathways to employment; and
  • Strengthen communities, particularly those disproportionately affected by incarceration and reentry, to promote family stability and opportunity

Click here to read the full text of the study.

Take the Pledge to Support Arizona Schools

Prop 123 GO artwork for surveyJoin us and take the pledge to support Arizona public schools beyond next month’s vote on Proposition 123, a measure that will provide much needed education dollars to districts and charters in the short term. In the longer term, we want to keep the pressure on public officials to focus on devising a sustainable way to fund K-12 schools and stop diverting monies to private schools and unneccessary tax cuts.

Prop 123 makes sense as the first step in education funding reform. It will help district and charter schools compensate and keep great teachers as well as update classroom textbooks and technology. If Prop 123 fails, inflation funding will not be immediately restored. The lawsuit would continue for an unknown amount of time with a very uncertain outcome. If Prop 123 passes, inflation funding is set for ten years and Arizonans can focus our efforts on holding politicians accountable for a long term, sustainable plan that fuels school success.

It’s simple to take the pledge. Just click this link and fill in the survey form. Share it with your family and friends on social media and email.

Additionally, there are volunteer opportunities to help get the word out about the importance of passing Proposition 123. No need to RSVP, feel free to drop in at one of two locations today and Monday:

Today: 

The Kitchell Corporation Training Center

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

1707 E Highland Ave, Phoenix

Monday, April 25:

Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition Offices

11:00 am – 1:00 pm

77 E. Columbus Ave., Suite 202, Phoenix

Click here to register

What You Need to Know About the State Budget

canstockphoto27175786We continue to await detailed proposals from both chambers of the legislature, as negotiating the FY 2017 budget once again goes on behind closed doors. From the numbers we have seen so far, the proposals from Senate president Biggs and House Speaker Gowan include reduced funding for public schools and a yet-to-be-named PERMANENT tax cut of $30 million, funds that are desperately needed for districts struggling to keep experienced teachers and classrooms using outdated technology and texbooks.

Also missing from the budget is unfreezing KidsCare, which will add $0 to the state budget, since costs are offset by 100% federal funding. KidsCare enables working families to buy low-cost health coverage for their children.

More of what you need to know is outlined in this infographic. Stay tuned as we watch lawmakers closely and share what further information we are able to glean with all our stakeholders.

Thank You For Participating in Our News Conference and Rally at the State Capitol

News conference KidsCare Gina Cobb CROPPEDA big thank you to our community partners, members of the Cover Kids Coalition and constituents across Arizona who joined us this week for a news conference and rally at the State Capitol, as we urged lawmakers to include KidsCare in their budget proposals to Governor Ducey. We also thank each of you who have emailed and called your representatives and the Governor to voice your support over the past several months.

If you were unable to attend, you can follow some of the media coverage here.

While our combined efforts ARE making a difference, our work is not yet over. Both chambers at the legislature have yet to present their budget proposals to the Governor and it is important that supporters of KidsCare continue to keep the pressure on until a final budget is signed.

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity, you can take action now by emailing your lawmakers with our easy to use link, calling Governor Ducey at 602.542.4331 to let him know of your support, and sharing our links and graphics on social media with your friends and family. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest.

As always, thank you for being a voice for Arizona children.

Statement from President and CEO Dana Wolfe Naimark on Senate President Andy Biggs’ Inaccurate Statements on KidsCare

PDF Version 

(Phoenix, AZ) – In media interviews this week with the Yellow Sheet and Arizona Horizon on KAET Channel 8 (Phoenix PBS affiliate), Senate President Andy Biggs was asked why he doesn’t support lifting the freeze on KidsCare. Senator Biggs replied with a series of inaccurate and contradictory statements. His opposition flies in the face of the priorities of Arizona and a majority of state lawmakers. They demonstrate his complete denial of the experiences of working families across this state and the link between healthy children and a strong and vibrant future.

First, Senator Biggs said that Arizona was left holding the bag on KidsCare in the past when the federal government cut its share of funding. In fact, Congress never cut funding for KidsCare. For many years, Arizona benefitted from $3 in matching federal funds for every $1 we invested in state funding. During the Great Recession, Governor Brewer and a majority of the legislature decided we couldn’t afford our share anymore and they froze enrollment. When Congress reauthorized the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2015, it increased the federal matching rate for every state and provided 100% federal funding for Arizona and eight other states based on high rates of child poverty.

Senator Biggs questioned the need for KidsCare and said he has no reason to believe the projection of 30,000 children who would enroll in the program as reported in the media. In fact, the projection of 30,000 children comes from our state’s Medicaid agency, AHCCCS. His claim that many of these children already qualify for Medicaid is completely false. All children who apply for KidsCare are screened for Medicaid eligibility first. Children in families who earn too much for Medicaid may qualify for KidsCare.

His assertion that uninsured children are already getting medical care is a complete denial of the real-life experiences of Arizona families and all of the research in health policy over many years that confirms that uninsured children go without check-ups, vaccinations, medication, and treatment for minor illnesses before they get worse. The reality is that when uninsured children become seriously ill, families are forced take them to hospital emergency rooms for expensive care for illnesses that could have been prevented or treated cost-effectively in a physician’s office. And—to add insult to injury—those families will be saddled with huge medical bills for which they are financially responsible.

Biggs said Obamacare was supposed to take care of children. In fact, Congress reauthorized and re-funded the Children’s Health Insurance Program to complement children’s coverage in the Affordable Care Act. The out-of-pocket costs to low-income, working families for Marketplace health plans are 2-8 times higher than the premiums families pay for KidsCare. Especially for families whose children have special health care needs, the Marketplace coverage is simply unaffordable. That is why every other state in the country still has its own version of KidsCare.

Senator Biggs says that although he doubts that 30,000 children need KidsCare, he does not support letting the legislature vote on lifting the freeze because he does not want to create a constituency for children’s health care. He wants to use his current position as Senate President to prevent even the possibility that a future legislature would consider the option of investing state dollars in KidsCare if the federal funding diminishes after Senator Biggs is out of office.

Senator Biggs says it doesn’t feel good to cut out health benefits that people rely on and he doesn’t want to unfreeze KidsCare because no politicians will have the stomach to make tough budget decisions in the future. While it shouldn’t feel good to eliminate life-saving benefits, Arizona politicians have done it numerous times. They froze KidsCare; they ended the temporary KidsCare II that used hospital funds and federal funds; they cut thousands of people who did not qualify for Medicaid out of behavioral health benefits; they cut children with life-threatening conditions out of specialty medical services if they didn’t qualify for Medicaid; and they eliminated voter-approved AHCCCS benefits for 100,000 childless adults.

The good news is that a strong constituency for children’s health in Arizona already exists – champions for connecting children to affordable health care and the chance to learn and grow up healthy no matter what their zip code is. A majority of state legislators do not stand with Senator Biggs on KidsCare. They stand with parents, pediatricians, nurses, faith leaders, children’s clinics, hospitals, community groups and business leaders to lift the freeze on KidsCare. They stand with kids.

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State Legislative Update: What You Need to Know About the Budget

canstockphoto10144631Budget charts are circulating throughout the capitol that reflect proposals from Senate President Andy Biggs and House Speaker David Gowan. They are working to round up enough votes to pass the budget over the next two weeks. Now is the time for Arizonans to let our own state senators and representatives know what priorities we want them to vote for in the budget. Stay tuned for how you can weigh in on the budget before the final deal is done.

Here is a brief overview:

• Both the Biggs and Gowan budgets largely mirror the Governor’s January budget proposal with no restoration of KidsCare, no new investments in public school teachers or classroom textbooks or technology, no restoration of cuts to university education, no new funding for workforce development, and no shifts in strategy to strengthen families and avoid future costs.
• Both budgets include additional, unnamed permanent tax cuts of $30 million each year will make it harder to restore missing funding to public schools.
• Both budgets reduce state funding per student in public schools (adjusted for inflation) – in opposition to the clarion calls from parents, community leaders and business CEOs around the state.
• The major new investment in both budgets is $28 million to expand the Governor’s Border Strike Task Force — despite the statements from county sheriffs that it would be far more effective to properly fund basic operations of the Department of Public Safety and reverse the funding cuts to counties.
• For the Department of Child Safety, the proposals prioritize prevention and in-home services to reduce the growth in foster care; but these budgets cut $18 million out of the Governor’s proposal which may leave funding short of meeting basic needs.
• The budgets include a rainy day fund balance of $470 million plus a cash balance that doubles to more than $800 million by fiscal year 2019. Biggs and Gowan leave this funding unallocated, sitting in an account rather than building opportunity or strengthening Arizona’s economy.

Click here for a more detailed summary of the Biggs budget proposal.

On Arizona Gives Day, Support Children’s Action Alliance

canstockphoto20662535All around the state, Arizonans are taking time today to make a donation to support causes they care about, causes like education, health care and strong families.

By giving to Children’s Action Alliance today, you will be showing your support for the common goals we share:

  • That all children have health insurance
  • That no child is raised in poverty and hunger
  • That every child enters school ready to learn and succeed
  • That no child suffers from abuse and neglect
  • That every child has a place to call home
  • That struggling teens have the support they need to become responsible adults
  • That grandparents have the resources to raise their grandchildren

You can be a voice for children and families to Governor Ducey, legislators, state agency leaders and the media. Please give today so that more children across Arizona can grow up to reach their dreams.

Thank you.