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Alaska

Our lead ally in Alaska is Alaska Children’s Trust (ACT), the statewide lead organization focused on the prevention of child abuse and neglect. ACT serves as advocate, convener, and catalyst for building a state that ensures children grow up in safe, stable, and nurturing environments. ACT influences public policy and, as the home to KIDS COUNT Alaska, produces reliable data, makes policy recommendations, and provides tools needed to advance sound policies that benefit Alaska’s children, youth, and families.

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2022 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Policy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Declining 

The governor signed the state’s fiscal 2022 budget into law on July 1, 2021, while also announcing line-item vetoes totaling $215 million. Excluding the Permanent Fund, the amended operating budget after vetoes totals $10.25 billion in all funds and $4.28 billion in unrestricted general funds. Compared to the fiscal 2021 management plan plus supplemental appropriations, fiscal 2022 spending from all funds is set to decline 22.5 percent and general funds spending is to decline 5.6 percent. The budget is based on an unrestricted general fund revenue forecasted of $4.73 billion in fiscal 2022, including a $3.1 billion expected transfer to the general fund from the Permanent Fund.1

Political Alignment: Aligned Republican

During the 2022 session, Alaska’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was also Republican.2

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 34% (33,000) of Alaska’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL. This number represents a decrease from 39% (37,000) in 2015.3

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Non-White children 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% FPL.3

Advocacy Landscape:

Southeast Alaska Association for the Education of Young Children

2022 Policy Progress:

This year, Alaska saw a significant win for early childhood with the passage of the Alaska Reads Act (HB114) which initiates universal, voluntary, high-quality pre-K programs and support across Alaska (from FY24-FY34). While we remain sensitive to equity concerns raised for rural Alaska and Alaska Native students in regards to the targeted reading intervention portion of this legislation, the pre-K portion of this historic, bi-partisan legislation is a win for Alaska’s kids.

Other highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include5:

HB114 initiates universal, voluntary, high-quality Pre-K and targeted reading intervention programs across Alaska. While the Pre-K element is certainly a win, we remain sensitive to equity concerns raised for rural Alaska and Alaska Native students in regards to the reading intervention portion of this legislation. Programs sunset in FY2034. (SB111 inserted as amend.)

SB34 directs the State Board of Education to partner with Alaska Tribes and Tribal organizations in creating a model program for future state-tribal compact schools. 

HB184 codifies the Tribal Child Welfare Compact, an historic state-tribal partnership transferring specific child welfare and prevention services from OCS to Tribes.

HB168 – Directs the State of Alaska to allow for electronic application/signature for a variety of state benefits, including Medicaid. 

HB 265 codifies pandemic-related telehealth flexibilities and expands Alaska Medicaid coverage.

EO 121 splits Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) into two more manageable Departments: the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Family & Community Services (DFCS). ACT took a neutral position, but served as a lead contact for DHSS in convening and communicating with nonprofit community partners. 

Budget wins include the addition of $3.7M in PRe-K grants (for a total of $5.7M), full funding of K-12 Education plus one-time additional funds of $57M (to account for inflation/increased costs per student), a $10M Office of Children’s Services Support Package, the addition of $3.4M to the Tribal Child Welfare Compact (for a total of $5M), and $750K in grants to ACT for after school programs (for a total of $2M). 

 

Alaska Advocacy Snapshot:

Alaska Early Childhood

Alaska Children’s Trust Report Spotlights the Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on the State Economy and Workforce

The Alaska Children’s Trust (ACT) has released “Vibrant Economy, Strong Workforce, Thriving Families: A Guide to Trauma-Informed Policy Decision-Making.” The document was developed as a tool to educate a broad range of state and local policymakers about the impact of ACEs on health and social problems. The primary audience is state legislators and their staffs, government administrators, and county and municipal policymakers.

Read More »

NOTES:

National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2022 Proposed & Enacted Budgets, April 2021

National Conference of State Legislatures, 2021 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 2, 2022.

Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, December, 2020; NCCP Analysis of ACS 5-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2016-2020.

Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-September, 2022.  

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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