Children who have a healthy start in life are more likely to reach their full potential. By investing in proven programs that give babies and children the support they need, we can better ensure that healthy start for every Arkansas kid.
- 🌟Establish 12-Month eligibility for children with ARKids A
One simple policy change that could increase children’s access to healthcare is to implement continuous 12-month eligibility – which already exists on ARKids B – for kids on ARKids A. 🌟After years of advocacy, this policy passed at the federal level at the end of 2022. Beginning in 2024, Arkansas will be required to provide 12-month eligibility for children on ARKids A.
- Extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months
Since we know healthy families also need healthy parents, we should extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months to provide for a healthier foundation.
- Increase access to period products in schools by amending Act 933 of 2021
To better ensure all children have access to feminine hygiene products, amend Act 933 to require that period products be available to students lower grades free of charge, not only middle and high school students. And all schools should be required to make feminine hygiene products more easily accessible.
- Eliminate the sales tax on period products
As an essential need for the health and wellbeing of Arkansans including children, eliminate the sales tax on feminine hygiene products.
- Raise or eliminate the state SNAP asset limit
The SNAP asset limit makes it harder for families to invest and save for the future and has little benefit for the state. That’ s why so few states still retain the federal minimum of $2,500 or $3,500 for households with a senior or disabled member. We should support efforts to raise or eliminate the SNAP asset limit.
- Create a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Arkansas’s tax system is regressive, which means that those with lower incomes pay more as a share of their income in state and local taxes than those with higher incomes. We recommend enacting a fully refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) at the state level that would go to Arkansans earning the lowest-incomes to help create a more equitable tax system.
For families in our state to succeed, we need to invest in making our communities inclusive, affordable places to live and work. The first step is making sure our communities have the housing, services, and amenities children need to fully participate in society no matter what they look like or what challenges they face.
- Provide permanent funding for the Arkansas Housing Trust Fund
Established by legislation in 2009, the Arkansas Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) was created to provide a flexible source of funding to address the need for affordable housing in the state. Allowable uses for AHTF include housing and foreclosure counseling.
- Create eviction diversion programs
There are currently 47 state and local eviction diversion programs operating across the country to help renters stay in their homes. These programs, which can be run through courts or are court-adjacent, are designed to identify and help people before evictions are filed to connect them to resources such as housing counseling and rental assistance.
- Establish Supported Decision Making and Alternatives to Guardianship
Currently in Arkansas, individuals are either legally independent adults at the age of maturity or are subjected to court-appointed guardianship, in which case they lose all personal rights. Other states provide an in-between option in Supported Decision Making that allow for an individual to establish formal support relationships that aid and assist in decision making while maintaining individual rights.
- Allow online voter registration
Many Arkansans, especially those with disabilities, experience significant barriers to participating in the voting process. Establishing online voter registration would expand access to the voting process for many.
- Eliminate youth fees and fines
Arkansas law allows courts to levy a range of fees and fines on the families of children in the criminal justice system, ranging from $10 to $500 per fee or fine. These fees and fines are problematic for several reasons: they undermine the ultimate goal of rehabilitation, emotionally and psychologically harm families, create administrative burdens for government, and exacerbate underlying racial inequities. We should support legislation to eliminate fees and fines for children and their families in Arkansas.
Strong Care Workforce
The care industries are the backbone of our economy. But for too long they have not gotten the support they need so they in turn can best support our communities. Child care and education, care and support for people with disabilities, and services for people with mental and behavioral health care needs are essential for all other sectors to do business in our state. Investing in them will help our entire economy.
- Invest in Direct Support Professional Workforce Stabilization and Development
Due to years of inadequate funding combined with the global pandemic-related workforce crisis, the workforce for home and community-based disability services is unable to meet the current support needs of Arkansans with disabilities. The state should increase the entry level reimbursement amount for Direct Support Professionals so more, quality staff can be hired. This need is urgent, not only to address today’s needs, but also to meet the upcoming increased demand for services.
- Increase funding for the state’s Arkansas Better Chance pre-school program to allow more children to enroll
Quality early childhood education is critical to the health development of children and it plays an important role in our economy. Increased funding for the Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) program that provides pre-K education for 3 and 4 year olds. The estimated state share needed to reach all low-income Arkansan families with children in this age range is roughly $100m annually.