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Interactive County Health Rankings Released

rwj county health rankings 2013A new interactive ranking of counties’ health across the US was released recently by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Nationally, the data show that child poverty has not improved since 2000, with more than one in five children living in poverty, while Arizona ranks even higher at 27%. The good news is violent crime has decreased nationally by almost half over the last two decades. The report emphasizes healthy behaviors, showing that life expectancy is less in counties with the highest rates of smoking, teen births, and physical inactivity. While the small samples limit the data for rural counties, it is clear that rural and low-income counties face greater health challenges with less access to care, higher teen birth rates, and lower education levels. See how Arizona breaks down by county here.

Clearing the Path for Common Core Evaluation

The business and education communities agree that Arizona’s schools and students need the legislature to take action to clear the path for student learning evaluations. HB 2047 would authorize replacing the AIMS test with an improved evaluation process aligned with the new statewide Common Core standards. HB 2047 is supported by the State Board of Education and received bipartisan support in the House, where it passed last month by a vote of 50 – 9 but it has not moved in the Senate. Please contact Senate Education Chair, Kimberly Yee at kyee@azleg.gov, to ask her to hear HB 2047.

Help for Grandparents Raising their Grandkids

Grandmother and Granddaughter BakingThanks to the tireless advocacy efforts of the Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors and supporters like you, CAA is pleased to report that SB 1090 passed unanimously yesterday in the House Reform and Human Services Committee. This legislation would provide a monthly $75 stipend to eligible grandparents and great-grandparents raising their grandchildren who have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level and are not receiving foster care payments or TANF cash assistance.  The next step for the bill is a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee. 

Nina Scholars Deadline Approaching

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust is seeking applicants for its scholarship program that brings the dream of a college education to candidates who face many life challenges and are often overlooked by college scholarship programs. If you know of anyone who may benefit from this opportunity, please pass it along. More than a dozen scholarship recipients will comprise the 13th cohort of Nina Scholars at Arizona State University or Maricopa County Community Colleges.

There are three targeted populations:
– Adults, ages 25 or older, with dependents.
– College-age youths and adults with physical disabilities.
– Young adults, 18-25 years old, who have lived in foster care and are responsible for their own financial support.

Applications are due March 1 for MCCC and April 1 for ASU.

For more information about applying to the Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars program, visit: www.ninapulliamtrust.org/nina-scholars.

Introducing the Arizona Youth Opportunities Initiative!

Children’s Action Alliance and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust recently launched a new initiative crafted to help youth who have been living in foster care make successful transitions to adulthood. The Arizona Youth Opportunities Initiative will inventory and evaluate existing services for youth who are leaving the foster care system, recommend services that might be networked together, find gaps in support services, and create new opportunities for foster care “graduates” to move on to higher education and life-long success.

Meghan Arrigo, the newest addition to the CAA team, will head up the initiative. She has already been hard at work the last few weeks laying the groundwork for our successful launch and we are pleased to have her on board.

Click here to read our press release announcing the new Initiative.

Photo 1 - CAA President and CEO Dana Wolfe Naimark

 

 

 

 

Photo 2 - L to R Monique Gilliam - Foster Youth Advocate and Meghan Arrigo - Manager of ArizonaYouthOpportunities

 

 

 

 

Photo 3 - L to R Monique Gilliam - Foster Youth Advocate and Belen Gonzalez - Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust

  

 

Youth Incarceration Drops Dramatically in Arizona

Arizona’s rate of confining young people in secure facilities has dropped by 57 percent over a 13-year period while crime rates have continued to fall, according to a new report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Youth Incarceration BadgeThe new KIDS COUNT data snapshot, Reducing Youth Incarceration in the United States, reports that the number of young people in secure juvenile facilities in Arizona on a single day fell to 1,092 in 2010, from 1,869 in 1997. This downward trend, documented in data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement, was faster in Arizona than in all but two states in the country.

This trend is good news for kids, public safety, and taxpayers. Research repeatedly shows that a high rate of youth incarceration is both expensive and ineffective in reducing recidivism, especially for youth who have never committed a violent offense. 

Arizona leaders in the courts, juvenile corrections, behavioral health and community-based youth services are working together to keep this positive trend going and make sure the right kids get to the right services at the right time. One current effort focuses on improving outcomes for youth who are in both the juvenile justice system and the foster care system. Arizona also participates with The Annie E. Casey Foundation in the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative to develop more effective options for kids who need help.

Opening Doors to College Degrees

CAA supports SB 1208, sponsored by Senators Driggs, Landrum Taylor, and Murphy. SB1208 will waive tuition payments for teens enrolled in community college or a state university after available federal and state tuition assistance grants are applied. Youth who were in foster care at age 16 can qualify. The bill has passed both the Senate Education and Appropriations Committees unanimously. Senators gave special recognition to the six foster alumni who testified, sharing their own experiences and their aspirations for other youth transitioning from foster care. The bill now awaits a final vote in the Senate before it moves on to the House.

One Step Closer for Grandfamilies

SB 1090, the bill with a $75 monthly stipend for qualified grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, passed 29-1 on a full vote in the Senate. It’s now on to the House!

Steps Forward for Child Protective Services

Thank you to Representative Kate Brophy McGee for sponsoring HB 2144, a bill to bring needed improvement to Child Protective Services. The bill passed the House Reform and Human Services Committee unanimously today. As amended, it requires DES to create a plan for an alternative, community-based approach to low-risk reports of abuse and neglect rather than a full-blown investigation. CAA fully supports planning and funding this kind of approach to help strengthen families and reduce the need for foster care. Click here to see why prevention efforts can make a huge difference for families.

HB 2144 also gives DES authority to establish new rules to change the length of time a person with a substantiated incident of abuse or neglect stays on the CPS central registry list. HB 2144 gives mandatory reporters of abuse the option of completing reports on-line and would eliminate the need for follow-up written reports.