Legislative Latest – Stay Informed!
State lawmakers have had a busy week with a lot of focus on children and families. Here’s the latest:
A Senate Committee Unanimously Supported Help for Grandparents Raising their Grandchildren (SB 1346)
Last month, some grandparents raising their grandchildren began receiving a monthly stipend of $75 per child. Unfortunately, this new stipend leaves out many grandfamilies who are not part of the CPS system and the funding is not enough to meet the need. SB 1346 would add $1.5 million to the existing funding and change the rules so that more grandfamilies will qualify. Grandparents would qualify for the monthly stipend if they don’t receive any other financial assistance, their grandchildren were placed with them by court order (CPS or guardians), and their income is below 200% of the federal poverty level. SB 1346 passed unanimously in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday and is scheduled to be heard in Senate Appropriations on Tuesday.
Work Group Tackles Legislation to Move CPS to a Separate State Agency
Governor Brewer has convened a small workgroup, chaired by her Chief of Staff, to develop the legislation that will create CPS as a new state agency. The workgroup is looking at a wide variety of issues about the structure and function of the new agency. Children’s Action Alliance had the opportunity to share ideas about the best ways to keep children safe and families strong. For now, the work on this bill is happening behind the scenes. Once it is drafted, it promises to take center stage.
The Senate Voted Unanimously to Bring Expert Advice to our Reform of CPS
The Senate passed SB 1386 to appropriate $250,000 to contract with an independent expert consultant to conduct an external review of CPS, to identify best practices in other states regarding the delivery of CPS and to make recommendations for improving the delivery of CPS in this state. This review can go hand-in-hand with the creation of the new state agency, helping Arizona develop the most effective policies to give every child a safe and permanent home.
Legislators Not Ready for Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards
Despite overwhelming public, educator and business-community opposition to a slate of bills designed to dismantle Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards, four of the six bad bills passed the Senate Education Committee yesterday. These bills would either eliminate the new Arizona College and Career Ready Standards or allow schools to opt out of them. We remain optimistic that, with continued community action, we can stop the campaign to dismantle these standards that the Arizona Department of Education voluntarily adopted a few years ago – and that a majority of Arizonans support.
Proposal to Drain Prevention Dollars from First Things First Goes Nowhere
State Representative John Kavanagh introduced HCR 2003. If passed by the legislature, this proposal would ask Arizona voters to require that First Things First spend one quarter of its annual budget on families who are in the CPS system. This bill tries to give state lawmakers a pass on their responsibility for funding and governing CPS. It ignores the fact that First Things First is already part of the solution helping families avoid the type of crises that lead to CPS involvement. First Things First has been ramping up its investment in family support services while the state legislature wiped out funding for child care, KidsCare, and assistance for struggling parents. Fortunately, this bill has not been scheduled for a committee hearing.