Alex Gonzalez, Producer
New data ranks Arizona 39th in the country for overall child well-being.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2023 Kids Count Data Book, Arizona did not score well across the four domains the group said “children and youth need most to thrive.” Those areas are economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.
Kelley Murphy, Interim CEO of the Children’s Action Alliance in Arizona, agreed Arizona has not made much progress over the years. She said it is a reflection of what the state does and does not invest in, as it pertains to children.
“We see that we do rank low and we have families struggling who can’t access child care for their children,” Murphy pointed out. “It is reflective of what we prioritize. We’ve never decided to go back to that place where we were funding things the way we should be funding them.”
Murphy emphasized the cost of child care has increased much faster than the rate of inflation. It is recommended parents should not spend more than about 7% of their income on child care, but in Arizona, child care costs more than $10,000 per year, per child, making it unaffordable for many.
The report found federal and state governments do little to help families afford child care, and the shortcomings of the child care system disproportionately affect the financial well-being of women, single parents, low-income families, and people of color.
Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said while the child care system needs serious investment, the report also highlights some positives.
“One ‘good news’ story is that the child poverty rates actually improved during the pandemic,” Boissiere reported. “We believe this is in large part due to family-supporting policies that were put in place, including the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which unfortunately was not made permanent.”
Boissiere noted it was the largest one-time reduction in child poverty in a single year. She added keeping the expanded Child Tax Credit in place would have made a significant impact on the number of children and families who are able to make it out of poverty.
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