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Alaska

Our lead ally in Alaska is Alaska Children’s Trust (ACT), an advocacy organization focused on the prevention of child abuse and neglect. They are an 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 and families.

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State Early Childhood Policy Environment and 2021 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.

Advocacy Landscape:

Southeast Alaska Association for the Education of Young Children

Policy Landscape and Progress:

$4.63B State Budget

Estimated FY2021 State General Fund Expenditures

ALIGNED GOVERNMENT
House (R), Senate (R),
Governor (R)

2021 SESSIONS: TWO
32nd Legislature (1/19-5/19)
Special Session (10/4)

31% LOW-INCOME CHILDREN
29,397 Young Children (0-8) in Households Below 200% FPL

PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN 0-8 IN LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS, BY RACE

Percentage of Children 0-8 Living in Households Below 200% FPL

The State of Alaska faces a $1.5 billion deficit, which it has experienced for the past 10 years. Savings have dropped from $22 billion to a few hundred million, and services have been pared accordingly. Key to the deficit has been a decline in oil revenue — oil revenue paid for nearly 90% of Alaska’s budget until 10 years ago. Declines in oil values and production levels with no broad-based tax in place to ensure a steady stream of revenue, has led to challenging budgets.

The 2021 legislative session, like many of the past sessions, was focused on the budget and Alaska’s annual Permanent Dividend Check (PFD). The PFD has been reduced to help cover the cost of government, and Alaskans — who in the past received $3,000 per person — now receive  $1,100. The budget and PFD debates have left little room for other important discussions, including those on the needs of Alaska’s children and families. 

In spite of the challenging 2021 legislative environment, Alaska allies made progress in several areas: 

    • Ensured continuation of current investments of early childhood as Alaska made further cuts to the budget due to the $1.5B deficit.
    • Prevented any budget cuts to the education budget which protected K-3rd grade.
    • Prevented a split of the state’s Department of Health & Social Services into two divisions. The Governor made the proposal in an executive order, which the legislature must approve, deny, or simply allow to stand without action. (Changing the legislation is prohibited.) Alaska Children’s Trust, in partnership with DHSS, hosted community forums across Alaska to hear organizations’ concerns. This led to the legislation being pulled.

Influencing Federal Funds
Advocates in Alaska helped to ensure federal relief funds were utilized to meet the needs and demands of the child care field. This included ensuring providers and others received funding to keep their doors open, purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies, increase salaries, offer training, and build capacity to assist providers in moving up in the QRIS process.

Sustained Advocacy Campaigns
Advocates will continue to try to pass a key priority: the Pre-K Program and Reading Act in 2022. They are working with the house majority to move the Act and have the two bills (SB 111 and HB 164) meet in conference and become approved in 2022.

Advocates also continue to build momentum in legislature to include mental health in the overall health curriculum for K-12.

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 »

 

REFERENCES:

National Center for Children in Poverty, “NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample, 2019.” Provided to the Alliance for Early Success, November 2020.

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). 2021 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 1, 2021. August 2021.

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Early Care and Education Bill Tracking, Searchable Database for 2021. August 2021.

Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau. “Population of Children Aged 0 to 8 (2019),” (as cited in Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Center). November 2020.  

State Grantees of the Alliance for Early Success, Survey and Analysis by Frontera Strategy, September-November 2021.

Vesey White, Kathryn, et al. (Spring 2021). “Table 4: Fiscal 2020 State General Fund, Estimated (Millions),” The Fiscal Survey of States. National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO). August 2021.

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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GOING FORWARD:

Top Alliance Grantee Priorities in Alaska for 2022

Decrease the annual Alaskan amount contributed to child care (17-20%) by increasing child care subsidies to lower contribution level closer to 7%.

Continue to build partner’s capacity, knowledge, skills, and resources to be actively engaged in advocacy.

Establish an early childhood education coalition in each of Alaska’s four major communities (Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau & Mat-Su Valley) to explore launching a local initiative to pay for ECE services.

Build a robust grassroots parent focused advocacy group.

Ensure passage of state legislation to establish the first ever investment in pre-k services.