The past year was an exciting one for the staff and board of AACF. Our work led to an important victory for low income families — raising the state minimum wage to $6.25 an hour. Our work also helped set the stage for increasing funding by $40 million for quality pre-k for at-risk children during the 2007 legislative session and launching a new initiative to reform the children’s mental health system.
AACF continued to conduct important research and advocacy work in a number of policy areas, including afterschool and summer programs, children’s health care, quality pre-school education, predatory payday lending, federal budget and tax issues, and state tax issues. In addition to our ongoing priorities, we launched new initiatives such as researching the impact of substance abuse on the child welfare system and conducting outreach to promote greater utilization of the federal earned income tax credit. Internally, we began new initiatives in outreach/communications and fundraising/development.
The staff and board of AACF want to thank you for all the confidence and trust you have shown in our efforts to improve the lives of Arkansas children and their families. The progress we have made would not be possible without your support. We are especially thankful for our many coalition and community partners who work together to improve public policy, national partners who help provide research and technical assistance, volunteers who give so freely of their time, and foundations, corporations, and individuals who provide financial support. We were fortunate to have Sandra Brown serve as our 2006 Board President. Ms. Brown has been a strong advocate of children’s health care, child obesity, and nutrition.
While major progress was made on several fronts, much more needs to be done to improve the lives of children and families in Arkansas. We need to make greater progress in our efforts to reduce the high cost of being poor through tax reform and the elimination of predatory payday lending practices, and three major overlapping systems of children’s services – child welfare, mental health, and juvenile justice – are in dire need of major reform. Access to children’s health care coverage also needs to be expanded to cover more children, and we must continue our efforts to fight child obesity and improve coordinated school health services.
Working together, we can make a difference in the lives of current and future generations by ensuring that every child and family has the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives and realize their full potential.