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Arkansas

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.

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: Growing 

Arkansas’ $5.85 billion fiscal 2022 general revenue budget increases spending by $161.9 million, or 2.9 percent, over fiscal 2021. Fiscal 2022 estimated gross general revenues are $6.99 billion while net available general revenues are $5.87 billion. New spending in the fiscal 2022 budget is mainly comprised of increases to K-12 education ($31.4 million), Medicaid ($60 million) and higher education institutions ($50.3 million); the budget also allocates $17.3 million for the Restricted Reserve Fund.1

Political Alignment: Aligned Republican

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

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 51% (176,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL. This number represents a decrease from 58% (196,000) 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:

Key state policy advocacy organizations include:

Early childhood policy advocacy multi-state initiatives present in the state include4:

2022 Policy Progress:

While Arkansas did not have a full legislative session this year, child advocates in Arkansas are gearing up for the 2023 legislative session next January that will include a new Governor and many new state legislators.

The Arkansas State Legislature convened a mental health/behavioral health working group in June, and there is a subgroup focused on prevention and early intervention. This subgroup will focus on services needed to meet mental health needs early (birth through adolescence).

Arkansas Alliance Partners continued to support the work of the YARN storytellers. The first cohort successfully concluded this year with their stories going live, and the second cohort is underway. 

Alliance Partners in Arkansas held very successful information sessions with early childhood educators about the Build Back Better legislation despite the legislation stalling. Advocates also presented to the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education Commission on the same topic, put together talking points, and published a blog explaining the Vanderbilt pre-k study and explaining the difference of outcomes in Arkansas. These were sent to policymakers on the education committees.

 

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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Arkansas Advocacy Snapshot:

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.