Thursday, January 27, 2022

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Report: AZ Under-Invests in Children's Health, Education, Well-Being

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Friday, June 25, 2021   

PHOENIX -- A decade-long look at how Arizona is taking care of its children finds the state is failing to provide the social, educational and financial support kids need.

The 2021 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzes how U.S. families fared between 2010 and 2019. The report looks at how Arizona and other states invest in children's economic wellbeing, education, health care, and family and community life.

David Lujan, president and CEO of the Children's Action Alliance said in Arizona, state leaders have done a poor job in terms of children's futures.

"We are 40th overall in wellbeing of children compared to the rest of the country, and really, that's about where we've been for pretty much the last decade," Lujan stated. "We've been hovering around the bottom 10 states, in terms of the job we are doing to take care of our children."

The report shows 15% of Arizona kids live in poverty compared with 9% nationally, while one in 10 Arizona children is without health insurance, almost twice the national average. Numbers on how kids fared during the pandemic economic crash won't be out until next year.

Lujan pointed out Arizona's low ranking didn't happen by accident.

"This didn't happen overnight," Lujan stressed. "This is the result of probably 20 years of disinvesting in a lot of the resources children need to be successful, things like our public education system, healthcare access, safety-net programs."

Lujan added the data show in 2019, one in five Arizona high-school students didn't graduate on time, and about 60% of three- and four-year-olds weren't enrolled in preschool.

He contended giving children an early start on their education is an invaluable investment.

"When we invest in early childhood education, what the research and data shows is that sets children on the path toward success for the rest of their academic lives," Lujan asserted.

He said there are things that make him hopeful for the future. The expanded federal Child Tax Credit, which goes into effect next month, along with other proposals to support families with children, could lift millions of kids out of poverty.

Disclosure: Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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