Year two of the COVID-19 pandemic had our staff continuing to adapt to a mostly virtual world as we worked with our partners, fellow advocates, and policymakers to advance our mission.
The 2021 state legislative session brought particular challenges, not only because we were conducting our advocacy work primarily virtually, but also because of the difficult political environment that brought many bills before the Legislature that would be harmful to children and families. Playing defense was an even greater priority than usual, as we fought to protect voting rights, equity in schools, and access to critical safety net programs. The year also saw the passage of major income tax cuts, opposed by AACF, that disproportionately favored wealthy taxpayers and corporations at the expense of future funding in the state budget for programs serving children and families.
We monitored and tracked the impact of federal policy changes and new federal funding designed to lessen the impacts of the pandemic on state economies, state budgets, and the ability of families and workers to meet basic family economic needs. The passage of the American Rescue Plan gave us the opportunity to raise awareness about the programs Arkansans could access and to advocate on strategic state spending of federal dollars. The expanded Child Tax Credit brought timely relief to the families of hundreds of thousands of Arkansas’s children, and we worked with national and state partners to spread the word about eligibility and how families could access the program.
In 2021, we continued to push for greater understanding of the need for strong early childhood education, low-income tax relief, juvenile justice reform, and improved access to health care coverage for postpartum women in low-income families.
AACF has learned to work smarter and more efficiently through our use of technology and online platforms, which will improve our ability to conduct advocacy in the future. We never stop working to be a powerful voice for children and families in Arkansas.
All of us at AACF remain thankful for your interest in our work. Our advocacy efforts are stronger because of friends and supporters like you.