This November, elections are critical to the well-being of Arkansas’s children and families and to the future of this great state. Arkansas voters will help decide which candidates win a number of important public offices, including the U.S. Presidency, a U.S. Senate seat, and House and Senate seats in the Arkansas General Assembly. The winners of these elections will help set the course of future public policy at both the state and national levels.
According to the 2015 edition of the National Data Book released annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Arkansas ranks 44th in overall child well-being. The public policy decisions our newly elected officials make will influence a myriad of issues important to the well-being of Arkansas children, including health care, hunger, early childhood education, K-12 education, child welfare services for abused and neglected children, juvenile justice, and family economic well-being. The elections will also help shape future state tax policies, which determine state budget funding for services that benefit many of the state’s children, especially our most vulnerable kids.
Children must be a top priority during the elections this year. Unfortunately, if you followed the campaign coverage leading up to the March 1 Arkansas primary elections, too much time has been spent bashing political opponents on issues important to well-funded special interest groups. Too little time and attention has been spent discussing the issues that are important to the well-being of all Arkansas children. Children can’t vote, they don’t make campaign contributions, and they generally don’t host political fundraisers for candidates or political parties. Yet our children will be the ones most impacted by the votes we make at the polls and by the decisions made by elected officials after the elections are over.
As advocates for kids, it is up to all of us to make sure their voices are heard. It’s up to us to make sure voters and candidates are informed of the issues important to their well-being, and to make sure these are addressed after the elections are over. We offer the 2016 Voter’s Guide in this spirit. We hope voters and candidates across the political spectrum will read this guide and be informed of the issues important to our children.
Watch this video featuring AACF Executive Director Rich Huddleston to learn more about the upcoming elections and the Voter’s Guide.