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Hiring: Part-time Contractor for Health Care Story Bank Collection

One of Children’s Action Alliance’s priorities is protecting affordable health care coverage for children and families. We are currently seeking a self-starting contractor who loves talking with people to identify families share their own health care stories. Excellent communications and interpersonal skills are need to interview folks, write and video stories, and train people to be Health Care Ambassadors.

This is a contract position and will involve approximately 16 hours per week. A full description and instructions for submitting a resume can be found here.

 

 

Legislation Moving Ahead for Kids and Families

We have good news to share from this legislative session so far: HB 2127, the measure to remove the automatic trigger to freeze KidsCare when federal funding drops below 100%, passed the full House and is on its way to the Senate.

HB 2449 passed the House Health Committee unanimously. This bill strengthens Arizona’s child care assistance program to connect more children with higher quality early education.

Next week, the House Education Committee will review HB 2482, a bill that would make permanent tuition waivers for foster care youth enrolled in state universities and community colleges. See the list of our top priority bills here.

Looking at the state budget, Arizona’s growing economy CAN’T plug leaks caused by 28 years of tax cuts. Governor Ducey’s budget proposal is loaded with one-time sweeps from special purpose funds and takes $52 million from hospital patients, counties, and universities. It continues to leave K-12 underfunded by more than $950 million compared to a decade ago, and makes no plans for moving teacher pay up from the bottom to fix the teacher shortage crisis. This infographic tells the story.

 

 

Gov. Ducey’s 2019 State Budget Proposal: What’s In It?

Infographic in printable PDF

Arizona’s growing economy CAN’T plug leaks caused by 28 years of tax cuts. The budget is loaded with overly optimistic revenue projections, counts on more Arizonans playing the lottery, takes $52 million from hospital patients, counties, and universities and uses $89 million in one-time shifts, as well as sweeps from special purpose funds. Additionally, $262 million will go to private schools. Our infographic tells the story:

Legislation for Kids and Families

The Arizona legislature and Congress are back at work this month and we have good news for children and families.

First, Congress has approved funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known in Arizona as KidsCare, for the next six years – a big win after funding expired last September 30th. Arizona now has guaranteed 100% federal funding for KidsCare through September 2019 and 91% federal funding for the year after that.

Second, the legislature’s House Health Committee last week approved HB 2127 without opposition, a measure that prevents an automatic freeze on KidsCare when federal funding dips below 100%. KidsCare was reinstated in 2016 after being closed to new enrollment in 2010 and provides affordable health coverage for more than 24,000 (and rising) Arizona families. HB 2127 now heads to the full House for further consideration.

You can join us in supporting this bill and other bills that promote children’s health, education, and security.

See our top bill list that we will update regularly.

Lawmakers Need to Hear From You: Keep KidsCare in Place for AZ Working Families

The legislative session is in full swing, with important bills already being heard in committees. Just one critical measure being considered is HB 2127 to prevent another freeze of KidsCare, Arizona’s affordable health coverage for working families. The first hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, January 18th at 10:30 am.

Congress has not yet voted to provide continued federal funding, but we expect a vote in the next two months. Arizona lawmakers have a chance to be proactive so that a small drop in Congressional funding in the future would not trigger an automatic freeze on KidsCare – shutting children out of the check-ups, prescriptions, immunizations, and treatments they need to grow up healthy.

Please join us in being a voice for Arizona families: KidsCare keeps children healthy and parents working. Click here to tell members of the Arizona House Health Committee you want them to vote YES to keep KidsCare in place.

 

Your Turn: Gov. Doug Ducey Would Give Schools $89 More Per Student. That’s Not Enough.

From The Arizona Republic

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is restoring money cut to schools during the recession, but it’s not enough to truly move the needle.

Gov. Doug Ducey is hearing the alarm bells across our state about our critical teacher shortage.

Tens of thousands of Arizona children are in classrooms without a permanent teacher. Positions go unfilled and classrooms get more crowded as so many exceptional teachers leave Arizona schools because of low pay and a lack of the support and infrastructure they need.

But the governor’s response so far doesn’t match the level of the crisis. And while voters, parents and business leaders consistently name public education funding as their top priority, Ducey’s response gives us more words than action.

Read the full editorial here. 

 

Gov. Ducey’s FY 2019 Budget Plan Fails Arizona Schools

Governor Ducey released his budget proposal today. There are some trends that are good for kids growing up in Arizona today, including a proposed funding increase for more children who are adopted from foster care and no new prison beds. But his lack of a long term financial plan for public schools fails Arizona. It’s up to us to demand stronger reinvestments and permanent funding sources from our elected leaders this year.

The Governor is focusing attention on his proposal to restore $100 million in classroom funding next year (called “District Additional Assistance and Charter Additional Assistance”). This is one small and necessary step in reinvesting in public schools. His proposal would reverse the budget cut that he proposed and adopted three years ago. But this amount is too low to move the needle on the teacher shortage crisis or on any of our shared educational goals.

Adding together all of his proposals, the Governor’s fiscal year 2019 plan still leaves public schools $952 million short of funding compared to 2008. This leaves Arizona students with a critical shortage of permanent teachers, outdated textbooks and technology, and a harmful lack of specialized teachers and support.

Governor Ducey provides us a glimpse of his future funding plans for public schools. While he promises to reverse some of the previous cuts to schools, he presents no financial plan we can count on. He promises more tax cuts every year, which will continue to shrink resources for public schools. And even at the end of his 5-year plan, public school classrooms will be short $700 million compared to 2008.

Stay tuned for more details on the Governor’s budget plan next week.

Permanent Guardianship in Arizona Needs Updated Policies and Support

After nearly two decades of experience with permanent guardianship in Arizona, the time has come to update laws and practices to safeguard children and improve their stability and security.

Abused and neglected children can be connected to lifelong families through an option known as “permanent guardianship,” which allows kids to leave foster care and live with people they already know and trust, preventing them from bouncing from one foster placement to another. This enables them to keep safe connections to their birth families and cultures.

Despite its many benefits, the supports for permanent guardianship have eroded over the years, including disconnected access to AHCCCS health coverage and dramatically lower guardianship support payments than what is available for children in adoption or standard foster care cases. Additionally, there is a need for clearer policies, practices and easier processes for permanent guardianship so that the courts, caseworkers, and families can all make better decisions for children.

Our new policy brief, Guardianship Can Be a Positive Life Changer for Children, outlines the policies that need to be updated. Read our brief here.

Gov. Ducey’s K-12 Education Funding Plan Fails to Restore $952M in K-12 Cuts

Governor Ducey announced an outline of his budget proposals for K-12 public schools yesterday. He enthusiastically described the value of reversing $100 million in cuts to classroom funding that he made just three years ago. He also wants to add $10 million in this year’s budget and $18 million in next year’s budget for school building maintenance and repair. He says he wants to restore another $271 million in cuts to classroom funding over five years, paid for by the state’s general fund. These are very small steps to reinvest in our public schools that will leave Arizona with a continuing critical teacher shortage, outdated textbooks and technology, dysfunctional school facilities and a harmful lack of student support.

What’s most notable about this plan is what is missing.

  • Missing is $950 million in classroom funding next year compared to what Arizona students had ten years ago.
  • Missing is sustainable funding schools can count on for restoring the cuts and paying teachers more.
  • Missing is any proposal from the Governor about replacing the $600 million that will disappear when Proposition 301 expires two years before the end of his plan.
  • Missing is any path to restore the other $700 million in cuts or to fuel any movement toward our Progress Meter goals on quality preschool, early literacy, 8th grade math, high school graduation, or attainment after high school.

Restoring some classroom cuts and some funding for school buildings is a small start – click here to see how small. But Arizonans expect bigger and better steps for reinvestments in our public schools during this legislative session.

AZ Schools Now Calls on State Lawmakers to Get Real on K-12 Public School Funding

Chart in printable PDF

Children’s Action Alliance is proud to be part of AZ Schools Now – a coalition of parents, teachers, and champions for public education. Today, we put out a call to Governor Doug Ducey and the state legislature to make substantial reinvestments in K-12 public schools this year to increase teacher pay and student support. We presented a menu of investment tools the legislature could use to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for public schools.

Right now, K-12 classrooms remain $1.1 BILLION below 2008 funding levels (see the attached chart, in printable PDF), which has resulted in a serious teacher shortage; meanwhile, students are being forced to learn from outdated textbooks and technology in overcrowded classrooms, and in many cases, dysfunctional facilities.

Arizonans consistently name public education a top priority and expect large, sustainable reinvestments that are permanent and equitable, not funding gimmicks or a reshuffling of the deck with current dollars. Public schools need reliable and sustainable sources of revenue.

Click here to see our one pager of recommendations to fund K-12 education.