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Report: Child Care Policies Rank AZ Near the Bottom

Access to quality child care is important for the well-being of parents, children, and our communities. The National Women’s Law Center released a new report entitled Persistent Gaps: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2017  that compares how states encourage or impede access to affordable, quality child care for working families.

The good news in Arizona is that the co-payment amount that families are required to pay dropped significantly. For a family of three earning $30,000 per year, for example, the co-payment dropped by an average of $87 per month. In addition, while Arizona still has a waiting list, administrative changes were made that allow families on the wait list to receive assistance much more quickly.

Despite this good news, Arizona still has the most out of date child care assistance rates in the country, paying at a rate based on what child care cost back in the year 2000. This payment rate is significantly out of compliance with the federal requirements to participate in this program, in some cases by as much as 43%. This problem puts children at risk because many low income parents can’t afford to pay the difference between the state reimbursement and the cost of care. Unless Arizona closes this gap, the result could be a loss of federal funding leaving many more of the most vulnerable children without reliable and safe child care.

 

Frank from Fostering Advocates AZ is Going to the UK to Study!

We are pleased to share that Frank Smith, a member of the Fostering Advocates Arizona (FAAZ) Young Adult Leadership Board, has just been awarded the Marshall Scholarship, a prestigious post-graduate scholarship.
The award was granted to only 43 students this year, and is focused on leadership and strengthening the relationship between the USA and the United Kingdom.

“The questions were grueling and challenging,” said Frank, who will head to Oxford University in England next summer to pursue a master’s in comparative social policy. Frank has worked hard to build a support system of friends, mentors and Arizona State University staff to help him achieve this incredible goal.

As an alumnus of foster care in Arizona, Frank has been an outstanding leader and inspiration through his efforts to improve outcomes for other kids in foster care. He has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to learn through diverse experiences in the broader public policy world. This is another step in his quest to make a difference in the lives of others.

Congratulations, Frank, and we look forward to hearing more about your success!

AZ Tax Collections Too Slow to Re-Invest in K-12 Public Schools

State revenue projections show that relying on economic growth without tax increases is not a realistic plan to reinvest the funding our schools need. Children’s Action Alliance highlights this gap in a new Return on Education policy brief.

The data show that Arizona’s K-12 public schools are STILL short $1.1 billion in state funding compared to fiscal year 2008, before the budget cuts during the Great Recession. Based on current revenue projections, even if all available revenues are invested in public schools over the next three years, more than $800 million would still be missing. And that would mean not a single new penny spent on university operations, water issues, prison inmate health care, relief to the counties, or the opioid crisis.

Until we have a real plan to restore state revenues, our children will continue to experience a severe shortage of permanent teachers in their classrooms, outdated textbooks and technology, and dysfunctional school facilities. Arizona specific figures reported by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee show that funding per student adjusted for inflation rose between 2017 and 2018, but state funding per student in 2018 is 19% below 2008.

Children’s Action Alliance is Hiring for an Administrative Assistant

Children’s Action Alliance has a job opening for an administrative assistant in our Phoenix office. The ideal applicant will be energetic, have a great attitude and enjoy working in a fast-paced and exciting office. The job announcement is attached here.

The position will be open until filled; please feel free to pass this along to anyone who may be interested.

Thank You for Helping to Make Through the Eyes of a Child a Success!

Thank you to each and every one of our generous sponsors and participants for making this year’s annual New Beginnings: Through the Eyes of a Child awards luncheon a big success. Children’s Action Alliance welcomed more than 500 people to honor Cindy McCain for her work in fighting human trafficking and Dr. Crista Johnson-Agbakwu for her dedication to the health of refugee women and families.


The event was livened by wonderful musical performances from students at Marcos de Niza High School and Osborn Middle School. If you were unable to attend, you can contribute to Children’s Action Alliance via our online donation link. Your contributions are tax deductible and help us improve children’s health, education, and security.

Many thanks to our exclusive event sponsors: APS, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Arizona and Greenberg Traurig; our platinum sponsors, Mercy Care Plan and Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care; and our gold sponsors, Care 1st and Maricopa Integrated Health System.

 

Left photo: Claudia Walters, Board Chair of CAA; Gilbert M. Orrantia, accepting the award on Cindy McCain’s behalf; Dana Wolfe Naimark, President & CEO, CAA.
Right photo: Claudia Walters; Dr. Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, Maricopa Integrated Health System; Dana Wolfe Naimark.

Data Show Children of Color Face Barriers to Educational Success

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that children of color and those growing up in immigrant families continue to face persistent barriers to opportunity.

The report, Race for Results, measures children’s progress on 12 key milestones for family security, health and education. The data shows small improvements since 2014. However, poverty and public policies leave many kids of color behind in every educational benchmark, from early childhood to attainment after high school.

Governor Ducey and many leaders throughout our state have made a commitment that all children in Arizona should have the chance for success, no matter what their family background or zip code is. But it is clear we can’t fulfill that commitment until we reform the very policies that are blocking the way for children with immigrant parents and children who are Latino, African American, and American Indian.

In Arizona, 445,000 children have at least one parent who is an immigrant; 90% of these children are US citizens. Nearly nine in ten children with immigrant parents in Arizona are children of color and many struggle in school because of language and cultural barriers.

 

Investments In Quality Early Education Yield High Returns

The evidence is clear: when young children have healthy and enriching experiences, with one on one attention from teachers, parents and caregivers, they are more likely to be ready for school and to transition successfully into kindergarten and beyond. Decades of evidence shows that an investment in quality early education saves considerable money in long term costs to address the issues that occur when students struggle in school.

Children’s Action Alliance has released a new policy brief entitled “Investments in Early Education Yield High Returns.”  The brief examines why quality early childhood is important for families and children, but also for businesses. It also provides an overview of the foundations that already exist here in Arizona as well as a look at some of the gaps and how we compare to other states.

It’s up to us to make sure policymakers hear the voices of teachers, parents, and business leaders: Early childhood is an investment we can’t afford to ignore.

 

Read Our 4th Quarter Newsletter – October – December 2017

Click here for our latest newsletter detailing what’s happening with the Arizona Grandparents Ambassadors this quarter.

Teacher Shortage is Reaching Critical Levels in Arizona

One hundred thirty five school districts and charter schools report ongoing challenges with Arizona’s teacher shortage in the third annual survey from the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association. This year, more than half of the identified teacher position openings remain vacant or are filled using alternative methods four weeks into the school year:

  • More than 500 teachers have already abandoned their jobs or resigned, up 13% over last year.
  • 1,328 teaching positions remain vacant
  • 2,491 teaching positions have been filled with people who don’t meet standard teaching requirements

The crisis means that many students are learning from long term substitutes and many teachers don’t have time to pay attention to each student because they are teaching combined and larger classes, curriculum in combined grades or extra classes with no time to plan.

The Morrison Institute report has documented low teacher salaries and difficult working conditions like these as large contributors to the shortage.

Last year, Children’s Action Alliance and AZ Schools Now brought specific proposals to Governor Ducey and the legislature to strengthen investments in classrooms and to boost teacher pay by 4% each year. The final budget they adopted included only a 2% bonus over two years. As the teacher shortage crisis continues, join us in demanding a statewide plan with resources to make our public education stronger.

Funding for AZ Public Schools Continues to Shortchange K-12 Students

Public school students are still receiving less support from state funds, when adjusted for inflation, than they were 10 years ago. When adjusted for inflation, today’s per student funding is $27 lower than it was in fiscal year 2009.

Looking just at the funding formula – those state, local and federal dollars that go to all district and charter schools based on the number of students – today’s per student funding is $499 lower than it was in fiscal year 2009. This is even after the $188 million increase in the distribution from the state land trust (Prop 123) which will expire in 7 years.

With the growth in the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA)s, which are funded in the K-12 formula but go to students enrolled in private schools or other non-public school settings, the amounts reported now exclude those scholarships. For this fiscal year, the estimate is that $63 million will go to ESAs.

Spending outside the funding formula includes funding that benefits specific schools, such as new school construction and building renewal grants and early literacy grants. The $37 million in results-based funding that will go to the highest performing schools is also outside the funding formula.

See our chart showing how funding has changed over the last 10 years here.