Children's Action Alliance Over 35 Years

Children’s Action Alliance began in 1988 as a voluntary organization composed of business and community leaders who were concerned about the lack of available, affordable child care and preschools in Arizona. The organization, known then as the Child Care Action Committee, was chaired by Eddie Basha, owner of Basha’s Supermarkets and President of the State Board of Education. By January 1988, the Child Care Action Committee had become the Child Care Action Alliance and received a two year commitment of $75,000 per year from the Steele Foundation to professionally staff the organization and support operational expenses.  By May 1988, Carol Kamin was hired as the organization’s first Executive Director and the name was changed to Children’s Action Alliance to reflect the organization’s desire to address and advocate for child and family issues beyond child care.  CAA was granted non-profit status by the IRS in September 1988 and in that application, CAA listed the following objectives of the organization. 

  • Develop a long-term plan for child care in Arizona; 
  • Organizing a business coalition or child cares to urge Arizona businesses to support quality child care for their employees; 
  • Writing a “how to” manual for Arizona businesses and industries on options for employer support for child care; 
  • Convening a conference directed at employers to promote employers’ involvement in child care; 
  • Developing and implementing a consumer awareness campaign and providing consumer education on how and why parents should choose quality child care; and providing research and direction on a project on homeless children. 

In addition to the above, the following legislative activities were to be undertaken by the organization: 

  • Provide expert testimony to state legislators, upon their written request, on child care and children’s issues; 
  • Respond to the written requests of Arizona’s congressional delegation regarding the effects of the federal legislation on children in Arizonan; 
  • Contacting public officials urging support or defeat of specific children’s legislation. 


CAA established a foundation for early childhood and child health programs and research in the first five years. Among many publications and initiatives, CAA partnered with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, initiated Arizona’s Kids Count project, and produced the first Kids Count Fact Book in 1991 in collaboration with the Morrison Institute. This project and information continue and thrive today and provide essential information and data regarding the state of child development and support within the U.S. and has acted as a catalyst and continuous support when CAA advocates in the community and at the capitol. A recession in the Arizona Economy and reduced state revenues forced the legislature to preserve health and human services. While this focus included funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), prenatal care, and early childhood education, essential aspects of a child’s life remained overlooked by lawmakers. In response, CAA participated in the Legislature’s Advisory Task Force on Runaway and Homeless Youth and focused on the need for childhood immunizations, family preservation, and homeless youth services. These efforts eventually led to legislation providing foster youth access to health care. 

  • 1988: Carol Kamin, PhD Executive Director of CAA 
  • 1989: Incorporation and 501 ( c ) 3 designation approved 
  • 1989: Steele Foundation start-up grant funding 
  • 1990: Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT project initiated. 
  • 1990: Horace Steele Child Advocacy Award Inaugurated.  First recipient Dan Cracchiolo 
  • 1991: First CAA Newsletter 
  • 1993: Endowment established at the Arizona Community Foundation with a gift of $10,000 from Larry Landry.  
  • 1993: Opened Tucson Office 


In 1994 CAA’s founding father, Eddie Basha, won the Democratic primary election for governor and former board member Jane Dee Hull became governor in 1998. While CAA remains nonpartisan, these candidates’ strength and connection to the organization’s work demonstrate the importance, presence, and applicability of child advocacy in Arizona. In 1996 the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data, Arizona was ranked 49th in the high school dropout rate. In 1996, CAA staff utilized and disseminated the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data in our advocacy and worked to secure the two final years of Success by Six funding (initiated in 1994 during special session). As well, CAA advocated for the 1% for Kids’ ordinance in Tucson, which set aside 1% of Tucson’s general fund budget for after school child care, and supported Proposition 203 which provided health insurance and children’s programs in Arizona. In 1997, CAA initiated the Vote for Kids Campaign and led the advocacy efforts to enact KidsCare, which passed in special session. 

  • 1994: Horace Steele Child Advocacy Award = Melody Robidoux [offer information about her contribution to CAA] 
  • 1994: Success by Six legislation passed in special session. 
  • 1997: KidsCare passed in special session 
  • 1997: Child Care Subsidy budget increased by 26 million 

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