Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families saw a year of growth in 2008 as we launched two milestone projects. First was the formation of the Arkansas Finish Line Coalition, an initiative to get health insurance for every Arkansas child. We also opened our first office outside of Little Rock in Northwest Arkansas, where we’re building new advocacy partnerships in the influential and growing region.
In conjunction with our partners, AACF also embarked on several other new projects in 2008, including promoting greater access to substance abuse treatment for women and children and building support in the faith community for tax fairness and economic justice.
We continued work on several of our long-term efforts. We staffed the work of the Governor’s Taskforce on Afterschool and Summer Programs and the Arkansas Out-of-School Network, helped increase public awareness of the child welfare crisis, worked to make the state and federal tax and budget systems fair for all families, and continued efforts to reform the juvenile justice system.
2008 was also a year of tremendous changes at AACF. As a result of new projects and the opening of the satellite office, we ended the year with 12 full-time staff members—half hired in 2008. In November, we also learned that our workflow will greatly change in coming years after voters approved annual sessions of the Arkansas General Assembly.
We owe many thanks to Brad Williams, our 2008 Board President. Brad provided strategic advice during this year of change. Brad’s commitment and insight were invaluable as we launched new initiatives. In the months ahead, we have much more to do, especially as the economy worsens and Arkansas families lose homes and jobs. Working together with our partners and policymakers, we’ll be working harder than ever to improve public policy and make a difference in the lives of today’s children and future generations.