PHOENIX – A decade-long review of how Arizona takes care of its children reveals the state is failing to provide the social, educational and financial support children need.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2021 Kids Count data book analyzes the situation of American families between 2010 and 2019. The report examines how Arizona and other states are investing in economic well-being, education, children’s health care and family and community life.
David Lujan, president and CEO of the Children’s Action Alliance, said that in Arizona, heads of state have done a bad job in terms of the future of children.
“We’re 40th overall in child welfare compared to the rest of the country, and really, that’s about where we’ve been for the last decade or so,” Lujan said. “We’ve been high in the last 10 states, in terms of the work we do to take care of our children.”
Report shows 15% of Arizona children live in poverty, up from 9% nationally, while one in 10 Arizona children have no health insurance, nearly double of the national average. Figures on how children behaved during the pandemic economic crash will not be released until next year.
Lujan said Arizona’s low ranking was no accident.
“It didn’t happen overnight,” Lujan said. “This is the result of probably 20 years of divesting in a lot of the resources that children need to be successful, things like our public education system, access to health care, social protection programs. “
Lujan added that data shows in 2019, one in five high school students in Arizona did not graduate on time, and about 60% of three and four year olds were not enrolled in kindergarten.
He argued that giving children an early start in their education is an invaluable investment.
“When we invest in early childhood education, what the research and data show is that children are on the path to success for the rest of their school life,” said Lujan.
He said there are things that make him optimistic about the future. The expanded federal child tax credit, which comes into effect next month, along with other proposals to support families with children, could lift millions of children out of poverty.
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