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Our key ally in Arkansas is Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, an organization that provides leadership, research, and advocacy to promote wide-ranging reforms that improved the lives of Arkansas children and their families. Their work includes advancing children’s health, early education, and family economic security.

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:

Policy Landscape and Progress:

$5.69B State Budget

Estimated FY2021 State General Fund Expenditures

House (R), Senate (R),
Governor (R)

93rd General Assembly (1/11-4/28)
93rd General Assembly 1st Special

173,765 Young Children (0-8) are Below 200% FPL


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

COVID-19 and social issues were front and center in the 2021 legislative season. Meeting restrictions imposed at the capitol during legislative sessions limited interaction with legislators, further hindering the ability of advocates to influence the legislative process and reduced the public transparency of legislative actions. (Legislative leadership, for example, did not allow virtual testimony on proposed legislation before committees).

In spite of the challenging 2021 environment, early childhood advocates across the state made progress in some key areas:

    • Defeated a major private school voucher bill that would have reduced funding for public education.
    • Worked to defeat the elimination of the soda tax that helps fund the state’s Medicaid trust fund.
    • Worked to defeat an effort to cut unemployment benefits.
    • SB 56. Child Care and Early Childhood Education Appropriations: Makes an appropriation for personal services and operating expenses for Dept. of Human Services – Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education for the fiscal year ending specified date.1
    • SB 409. Department of Education Save the Children Appropriation: Regarding Dept. of Education – Save the Children appropriation, provides grant for statewide in-school, summer, and after school literacy, nutrition, home visiting and early childhood programs.1
    • HB 1098. Requires notice to certain persons when a sex offender is on the premises of a childcare facility, concerns the presence of a sex offender on the premises of a childcare facility.1
    • HB 1728. Amends the law related to campaign finance, allows campaign funds to pay childcare expenses, amends portions of Initiated Act 1 of 1990 and Initiated Act 1 of 1996.1

Arkansas Advocacy Snapshot:


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


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:


More State Demographic Data:



Top Alliance Grantee Priorities in Arkansas for 2022

Inform plans and influence allocations of federal funds distributed to Arkansas which target early care and education.

Advocate for better and more equitable compensation for early childhood educators in Arkansas.


Promote supports for family child care.

Engage and advise members of the early care and education sector to advocate on their own behalf.