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Victory for Arizona Families As No More Freeze on KidsCare: First Day of Health Coverage Begins Tomorrow

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(Phoenix, AZ) Working families across Arizona will now be able to take their children to the doctor without fear of going broke, thanks to lawmakers lifting the freeze on KidsCare, Arizona’s own version of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Until the law reinstating KidsCare was passed and signed in May of this year, Arizona was the only state in the nation that did not offer a CHIP to working families who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS here), yet could not afford to purchase plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace or private market.

Families can apply for KidsCare at any time as enrollment is ongoing and not capped.

Because KidsCare has been unavailable to new applicants since 2010, families who are currently eligible may not know they can now apply for their children. Children’s Action Alliance, along with community partners who fought to lift the freeze on KidsCare, are kicking off an aggressive outreach effort to spread the word to parents that KidsCare is once again open to enrollment and an affordable option for families who qualify.

Public awareness efforts will include radio PSAs, community events, and digital and social media ads, as well as take home collateral and word-of-mouth campaigns, all encouraging parents to visit www.CoverAZ.org or call 1-800-377-3536 to schedule a convenient appointment for free, professional help to apply. Computer-savvy parents can also apply on their own at www.HealthEArizonaPlus.gov.

“For too long, working families have struggled with premiums, deductibles and co-pays that have made it difficult for them to get proper medical care for their children,” said Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance. “It’s good for kids to see a doctor as soon as they are feeling sick: it prevents minor illnesses from getting worse, keeps children from missing too much school and parents from having to take time off work to stay home with sick kids. This is nothing but good for families and Arizona overall.”

AHCCCS officials have estimated more than 30,000 Arizona children are likely to be enrolled in KidsCare during the first year.

 

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Tuesday, August 30th is Primary Election Day

canstockphoto1319754Tomorrow, August 30th, is primary election day in Arizona, where registered voters will choose the candidates who will proceed to the general election in November.

Polls are open all day until 7pm statewide, but if you are not sure where you are supposed to go to cast a ballot, visit the Secretary of State’s website to find out. If you have a mail-in ballot, do not send it now, take it to ANY polling station near home or work – you will not have to wait in line – and drop it in the collection box.

Many voters are often undecided until the last minute about who to vote for. To help you sift through the mountains of information and what candidates say about children’s issues, we sent surveys to candidates of all parties running for the state legislature. We continued to get responses as recently as early August and have updated them on our website, unedited and as submitted to us. We encourage you to visit our elections page, review the submissions for your district and use them to make your selections.

Arizona Kids Count Data Shows Successes, Declines in Kids’ Conditions

canstockphoto8108866New county-level statistics compiled by Children’s Action Alliance, in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, show a detailed insight into child poverty, academic achievement, child safety and juvenile crime in Arizona. The 2016 Arizona KIDS COUNT Data Book analyzes five years of data from 2009 – 2014, comparing conditions for kids and families from a difficult economic period during and after the nation slowly emerged from the Great Recession. The report also includes a look into the lives of Arizona families affected by public policies.

The astronomical increase in the number of kids in foster care shows a dire need for greater investment in prevention services for at-risk families. Additionally, the data finds that improvements in high school graduation rates have stalled and more than half of Arizona children live in low income families.

The data isn’t all negative, as there are some signs of progress:

  • The rate of youth arrested for violent crime dropped by more than a third between 2009 and 2015 statewide and fell in every Arizona county
  • The percentage of babies born to mothers with less than a high school education fell statewide and in 12 of the state’s 15 counties

The full report is available for download on our website by clicking here.

Your Opportunity to Give Input on Arizona’s Education Priorities is Here

kid learning photoThe state’s Department of Education is inviting all Arizonans to share their priorities for education by responding to an online survey, the results of which will be used to develop Arizona’s plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  ESSA, which will replace No Child Left Behind as the primary federal legislation addressing the nation’s public education system, is scheduled to be implemented in the 2017-2018 school year.  ESSA allows states to set their own goals and measurements for determining student and school success but requires them to do so using a transparent process that involves students, parents, teachers and the community at large.

It has never been more critical for people in this state to let lawmakers and education policymakers know their opinions about public education in Arizona.  With some $1.5 billion in state funding cut from public education since 2008, this is your opportunity to let state officials know how strongly you support the need to fully fund public schools and give K-12 districts the resources necessary to provide up-to-date books, technology and safe classrooms for students.

The survey is available until September 30th. For a Spanish version, click here.

Join Us for the 5th Grandparents Ambassadors Summit

Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors statewide will gather at the 5th Arizona Grandparent Ambassador Summit next month to network and plan for next steps in their advocacy agenda.Whether you are a grandparent raising a grandchild or community supporter, your participation is welcome.  This summit is a great event to meet others in the same situation, discuss matters of concern and attend workshop sessions on legal issues, being an advocate and helping kids through traumatic situations. Child care for the summit is available on a limited basis, so be sure to sign up early. Cost for registration is only $5.

The 5th Arizona Grandparents Ambassadors Summit 

Saturday, September 17th, 2016 from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm

Salvation Army Kroc Center – 1375 E Broadway Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85040

The group’s work is making a difference, as this month, representatives (pictured) attended a ceremonial bill signing for HB2452, a measure that eliminates what Governor Ducey referred to as the “grandparent penalty” in his State of the State speech last January. The bill now enables income-eligible grandfamilies to qualify for financial assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a huge win for grandparents on a limited income who are raising their grandkids.

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The Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors are a network of grandparents raising their grandchildren across Arizona  Their mission is to support, mobilize, educate, and advocate for Arizona’s grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.

Children’s Issues Are Critical This and Every Election Year

I stand for kids' issues EditThere is a lot of sound and fury to take our attention this election season. A new national poll shows that American voters recognize the importance of voting for kids.

The online poll, conducted this past spring by Hart Research Associates on behalf of the Children’s Leadership Council, found nearly two-thirds of voters polled say the next president and Congress should invest more in children, including in education, health and nutrition programs that benefit kids. Further, respondents say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who commits to making children’s issues a priority.

Voters’ interest in children crosses party lines. A majority of Republican parents, Independent parents, and Democratic parents believe children would be better off if government did more to support parents and families by making education, child care, nutrition, and children’s healthcare more affordable.

Members of the Arizona legislature are also important policymakers at the state level, voting on education funding and a variety of other bills that affect working families. Every seat is up for grabs this cycle, and we want to provide as much information as possible so you can make an informed choice.

Children’s Action Alliance surveyed candidates for the Arizona legislature on issues affecting conditions for kids and made the unaltered responses available on our web site. If you aren’t sure of your district, you can find out here.

Arizona 2016 Vote for Public Education – Watch the Video

Stumped on how to know which candidates are really willing to support public education? There are a few simple questions that can help you figure that out. Click to watch AZ Schools Now’s video to find out what to ask candidates in your legislative district about their commitment to Arizona public schools. Arizona 2016 Vote for Public Education (1)

Trends in Child Safety

sad kid croppedArizonans remain on red alert about our responsibility to protect children from abuse and neglect as we hear about horrible cases of parents killing children, children suddenly removed from group homes due to safety concerns, and a judge holding the Department of Child Safety in contempt of court due to a lack of timely services to families.All of these conditions demand attention and action. And as voters make decisions for the primary election, it is important to ask whether there are any signs of progress.

Looking at trends in key measures, there are some positive signs. Click here to see that in the past few months the number of children in foster care has dipped, the number of backlogged open reports has been cut in half, and the number of case management staff who work directly with families has begun to climb back after dropping to a frightening low.

It’s up to voters and our leaders to keep these trends going in the right direction and to put prevention plans and resources into action to help struggling families BEFORE they are in complete crisis. As our state embarks on a new plan to reduce the number of children living in group settings, the number of children living in shelters for more than 3 weeks has risen and far too many children live in group homes or residential treatment centers instead of with a family.

Stumped on Which Questions to Ask Candidates About Support for Education?

Copy of AZ Schools Now! for round stickers (3)By now, most Arizona voters who vote by mail should have gotten their ballots for this year’s primary elections and are in the process of choosing their candidates.

The election is August 30th, less than three weeks away, and with so little time to decide, voters are often stumped on who should get their vote for the state legislature. AZ Schools Now, a coalition of individuals and organizations that push for enough funding for public schools to provide students with up-to-date technology, textbooks and safe classrooms, encourages voters to cast their ballot for legislative candidates who will support public education.

This video will help you ask the questions to determine which of your district’s candidates is willing to vote in favor of policies that give Arizona school districts the tools they need to educate the state’s children.

Also, if you have not yet had the opportunity to review our candidate questionnaire, this link will take you to all the responses we have received to our brief survey to date.

 

 

 

Today is the Last Day to Register to Vote for the August Primary Election

Register to vote!With the rush of the new school year beginning through the next few weeks, there will be school supplies, backpacks, clothes, schedules to arrange and many other things to do to get the kids prepared. One other thing that should be on your to-do list is making sure you are registered to vote for the upcoming primary election. Today is the last day to do so if you plan to cast a ballot in the primaries on August 30th.

It is not just a presidential election year, every seat in the state legislature is also on the ticket. State legislators vote on critical issues affecting children and your ballot chooses who will represent your voice in new laws and policies that are introduced and signed into law for the next two years.You can register to vote online here.

May you have a great 2016-17 academic year.