Child Welfare System – Arizona

Arizona’s foster care boards don’t look like their communities. Here’s why that matters, By Maria Polletta, November 12, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Experts have long recognized inequalities in America’s child-welfare system: When kids share identical circumstances except for race, black and Native American children enter foster care more often, spend more time in the system and wait longer to be adopted. In an attempt to ensure fair treatment for kids taken from their parents, Arizona lawmakers decades ago mandated that Foster Care Review Boards — which help decide the fates of children in foster care — mirror the races, ethnicities and income levels of the communities they serve.  They don’t…”

Public Housing – Phoenix, AZ

‘It just has to go’: Plans for crumbling Phoenix housing projects threatened by new HUD cuts, By Alden Woods, September 28, 2017, Arizona Republic: “She moved into the projects 32 years ago, eyes wide at everything that had become hers. ‘This is mine,’ Yvonne Bridges remembers whispering back then, as a caseworker wheeled her through the door. ‘Mine,’ she repeated, running a hand over the sweating concrete walls and the vents that blew sticky air. Three decades later, the same concrete walls still surround 88-year-old Bridges. The Edison-Eastlake neighborhood has fallen into disrepair. Thick concrete walls trap in heat that aging swamp coolers can’t dispel, and maintenance teams improvise fixes on 75-year-old parts. For 32 years, Edison-Eastlake crumbled along with so many of America’s public housing projects. Federal money meant to maintain the country’s 1.2 million public housing units was never enough, and a backlog built up. The National Housing Preservation Database now counts more than 84,000 units in need of immediate investment…”

Housing and Eviction

  • ‘Here for the eviction’: More renters forced from homes as affordable-housing crisis deepens, By Alden Woods, July 16, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Ken Sumner stepped through the debris of another unexpected move. He weaved around the two men backing a truck through their friend’s barren yard, past a speaker system and stacks of framed photographs, moving toward the front door for his fifth eviction of the day. The evicted man waited alone…”
  • Councilman proposes legal aid for tenants in Baltimore facing evictions, By Doug Donovan, July 17, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “A Baltimore city councilman introduced legislation Monday aimed at establishing a fund that would help low-income tenants facing eviction and other housing problems to hire attorneys, an effort that cities across the nation are exploring or have implemented…”

Medicaid Coverage

Foster Care Systems – Oregon, Arizona

  • New report on Oregon’s foster care system charts solutions, failures, By Hillary Borrud, August 25, 2016, The Oregonian: “An unsparing report spurred by Oregon’s latest foster care scandal identifies fairly obvious remedies for the state’s troubled child welfare system.  But those recommendations, released Thursday and first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive, also highlight the Department of Human Services’ ongoing failure to adopt solutions identified year after year in previous reviews…”
  • Foster care children aging out of Arizona system need transitional help, By Selena Makrides, August 27, 2016, Arizona Republic: “Jasmine Flores entered the Arizona foster care system when she was 13 years old. She stayed in the system, moving from group home to group home to group home and changing schools along the way.  When she approached her 18th birthday, she began to think about life outside of the state care system. She’s now 19, the proud owner of a car and a thriving college student, after participating in the transitional programs for aging foster youth. Flores’s transition story, though, is not typical for the roughly 800 young adults expected to “age-out” of the foster care system in Arizona in 2016…”

Child Welfare Systems – Arkansas, Arizona

  • Children in foster care in Arkansas reaches all-time high, By Brian Fanney, August 22, 2016, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “The number of children in foster care has reached an all-time high in Arkansas, straining state officials who have long referred to the growth as a crisis.  But the state has reversed a trend of losing foster families every quarter, according to reports prepared by the Division of Children and Family Services…”
  • Critics say Arizona is cheaping out on child-welfare services, By Mary Jo Pitzl, August 21, 2016, Arizona Republic: “Social-service providers are warning that children could linger longer in foster care if the state of Arizona follows through with a new round of contracts they say will cut rates, lower standards and deter qualified applicants.  The complaints arise as the state is on the verge of awarding new contracts for services the Department of Child Safety insists will get kids out of foster care and into permanent homes more quickly, without increasing costs to the state…”

Children’s Health Insurance Coverage – Arizona

Arizona becomes the last state to provide health insurance to low-income children, By Lenny Bernstein, July 25, 2016, Washington Post: “Arizona is rejoining a children’s health insurance program for low and middle-income families, becoming the last state in the union to provide coverage for health care, dental care, speech therapy and other services to families who don’t qualify for Medicaid…”

Children’s Health Insurance Program – Arizona

Arizona House revives KidsCare; fate in Senate unclear, By Mary Jo Pitzl, May 6, 2016, Arizona Republic: “Chastened and angry over their failure to reinstate KidsCare, Republican lawmakers in the Arizona House got Democrats to join them Thursday in a successful bid to revive the children’s health-insurance program.  But the program’s fate in the state Senate, where President Andy Biggs has been a staunch opponent, is unclear. The Senate went home for the day while the House debate continued.  Skeptics questioned whether the maneuvers were a face-saving bid by Republicans who don’t want to face constituents angry over the Legislature’s decision earlier this week to reject KidsCare, retaining Arizona’s status as the only state without such a program…”

Business in High-Poverty Neighborhoods – Arizona

  • Where the Money Lives: Poor areas of Phoenix offer different business challenges, opportunities, By Mike Sunnucks, November 20, 2015, Phoenix Business Journal: “Kat Proffitt knows how many people perceive the Coronado area of Phoenix, along McDowell Road near 16th Street. ‘They think it’s the ghetto,’ said Proffitt, co-owner of Smooth Brew, a coffee shop at McDowell and 14th Street. ‘They think it’s dangerous.’ Proffitt lives a couple of blocks from where she and partners Clint Coonfer and Darin Toone opened Smooth Brew last May. She insists the neighborhood isn’t as rough as commuters and passers-by might think…”
  • Where the Money Lives: 1 in 5 Arizonans live in poor neighborhoods, By Mike Sunnucks, November 20, 2015, Phoenix Business Journal: “Arizona has some of the poorest ZIP codes in the U.S. and some intense concentrations of poverty. More than one in five Arizonans, 22 percent, live in economically distressed neighborhoods. That is fifth worst among the states, according to the Washington-based Economic Innovation Group…”

SNAP and Medicaid and Work Requirements

  • Food stamp eligibility’s tie to labor divisive, By Beth Walton, September 29, 2015, Citizen-Times: “Some North Carolinians in need will have to work a little harder to maintain food stamp benefits come January. Undoing eight years of state policy, Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is requiring that childless, able-bodied adults ages 18 to 49 meet time-sensitive work requirements to continue receiving food assistance…”
  • Should Medicaid recipients have to work?, By Michael Ollove, September 30, 2015, Stateline: “If Arizona gets its way, its able-bodied, low-income adults will face the toughest requirements in the country to receive health care coverage through Medicaid. Most of those Medicaid recipients, and new applicants, would have to have a job, be looking for one or be in job training to qualify for the joint federal-state program for the poor. They would have to contribute their own money to health savings accounts, which they could tap into only if they met work requirements or engaged in certain types of healthy behavior, such as completing wellness physical exams or participating in smoking cessation classes. And most recipients would be limited to just five years of coverage as adults…”

Child Welfare Systems – Michigan, Arizona

  • Michigan foster care ‘a persistent and dire problem’, By Justin A. Hinkley, July 2, 2015, Lansing State Journal: “A girl was injured during an unsupervised visit with the parents she’d been taken away from. Kids with a history of inappropriate sexual behavior were placed in homes with younger children. A child ran away and police weren’t notified for days. A decade ago, the death of Williamston 7-year-old Ricky Holland at the hands of his adoptive parents revealed fatal flaws in the state’s safeguards for foster kids. Seven years ago, a class-action lawsuit in federal court mandated improvements.  Still, Michigan continues to fail hundreds of kids a year, court-appointed monitors say…”
  • Foster care will not be privatized, officials say, By Justin A. Hinkley, June 29, 2015, Lansing State Journal: “Despite official statements to the contrary, state employees and some private providers suspect Michigan is working toward fully outsourcing foster care services in the state. Currently, the more than 12,000 foster care cases in Michigan are split about evenly between private providers and the more than 700 foster care workers at the state Department of Health & Human Services. The division varies by county, but state employees and others look to Kent County — where recent legislation fully privatized foster care case management and established a pilot program for a performance-based funding model — as one of several clues that 100% outsourcing is coming down the pike…”
  • Arizona child-safety agency struggles with staff turnover, rising child removals, By Mary Jo Pitzl, June 28, 2015, Arizona Republic: “A year ago Arizona’s governor and a united Legislature agreed that to save the state’s troubled child-welfare agency, it had to be razed and rebuilt.  They pulled the child-welfare office out of the mammoth state Department of Economic Security and made it a stand-alone agency that reports directly to the governor. They also boosted its budget by $94 million to give it the firepower to reduce a backlog of 13,000 reports of child abuse and neglect, as well as to hire more caseworkers for the increasing number of new reports. And they made transparency a key criteria to hold the agency accountable…”

State Medicaid Program – Arizona

Arizona hospitals, doctors avoid 5 percent Medicaid pay cut, By Ken Alltucker, June 10, 2015, Arizona Republic: “Arizona hospitals, doctors and other health providers will get a reprieve after the state’s Medicaid program announced it will cancel a planned 5 percent payment cut because of lower-than-expected use among enrollees and a prescription-drug rebate.  The combination will provide enough financial relief to keep Medicaid’s existing payment rates, according to a spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey…”

Welfare Time Limits – Arizona

Arizona sharply limits welfare to 12 months, Associated Press, May 20, 2015, Arizona Republic: “Facing a $1 billion budget deficit, Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature has reduced the lifetime limit for welfare recipients to the shortest window in the nation. Low-income families on welfare will now have their benefits cut off after just 12 months. As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state’s federally funded welfare program on July 1, 2016…”

Foster Care System – Arizona

  • As Arizona struggles to fix foster system, children suffer the consequences, By Rick Rojas, March 24, 2015, New York Times: “She was just 5 months old the first time she and her siblings were taken from a mother struggling with addiction and placed in the care of the state. At times, she was separated from her brothers and sisters. She received neither the glasses she needed, nor the orthopedic shoes, leaving her with a limp. Now 10, she has spent more than half her life in foster care, having been returned to her mother only to be removed again, a routine that has been repeated multiple times.  The girl, identified only by the initials B. K., is one of several child plaintiffs named in a lawsuit filed last month by two advocacy groups, which assert that Arizona pulls children from tumultuous family lives only to place them in more turbulent circumstances in the care of the state’s child welfare system. Although that system was overhauled last year, after the disclosure by a whistle-blower that more than 6,500 complaints about child neglect and mistreatment were reported but completely ignored, the lawsuit asserts that only negligible progress has been made…”
  • Foster-care plan for tribes filled with problems, By Kristen Hwang, March 21, 2015, Arizona Daily Star: “When the federal government opened foster-care assistance to Native American tribes in 2008, more than 80 expressed interest in the program.  By 2014, however, just 27 tribes had applied and only five had been approved for the federal program, their efforts hobbled by a lack of resources, inflexibility by federal bureaucrats and cultural insensitivity, according to a Government Accountability Office report…”

Foster Care System – Arizona

  • Lawsuit: Arizona’s neglect of foster kids shocking, By Mary Jo Pitzi, February 4, 2015, Arizona Republic: “Arizona’s neglect of children in foster care ‘shocks the conscience’ and amounts to official apathy toward the plight of nearly 17,000 children, a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court alleges. ‘It is time that someone gives voice to the thousands of children in foster care who have no say about where they live, where their siblings go, or what happens in their future,’ Kris Jacober, president of the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents, said in a statement accompanying the suit…”
  • Don’t let foster-care lawsuit get us off track, Editorial, February 4, 2015, Arizona Republic: “It’s hard to be dispassionate after reading the stories that led to a class-action lawsuit against the state on behalf of nearly 17,000 children in foster care. Sobs or howls of anger come more easily. The lawsuit uses the state’s own data to show how children often remain in limbo after being shunted around multiple placements, separated from siblings and denied medical, dental, behavioral and mental-health treatment…”

Medicaid Program – Arizona

In Arizona, swings in Medicaid access show program’s impact, By Noam N. Levey, November 30 2014, Los Angeles Times: “Bad timing turned Karen Slone’s medical problem into a crisis. Slone, 53, a former administrative assistant with diabetes, followed doctors’ advice for years, getting regular checkups. Then, last year, she lost her job and her insurance, and stopped going to the doctor. When she spotted a sore on her foot, a common complication of diabetes, Slone tried Neosporin and Band-Aids. By the time she went to an emergency room weeks later, she had a raging infection. Surgeons had to remove bones in two toes. ‘It was awful,’ Slone recalled. ‘If I’d have been covered, I would have gone to the doctor sooner.’ For low-income adults like Slone, Arizona was once a trailblazer in healthcare, providing broad access to Medicaid, the government health plan for the poor…”

Minimum Wage – Arizona

Arizona’s minimum wage to rise 15¢ on Jan. 1, By Howard Fischer, October 19, 2014, Arizona Daily Star: “What would you buy with an extra $6 a week? Two gallons of milk? A Big Mac meal? A venti half-caf, sugar-free latte? That’s how much more those at the bottom of the pay scale will be making come Jan. 1 when the minimum wage in Arizona rises 15 cents to $8.05 an hour. Before taxes. Arizona voters mandated in 2006 that the state have its own minimum wage not tied to the federal figure. And that law requires annual automatic adjustments tied to inflation. The federal minimum wage, currently $7.25, goes up only when Congress approves it, something that last happened in 2009…”

Child Welfare System – Arizona

Reports give grim outlook for Arizona child welfare, By Mary Jo Pitzl, March 14, 2014, Arizona Republic: “Two reports set the stage for the daunting work facing the state task force charged with reinventing the state’s child-welfare agency. They confirm in numbers and trend lines the continued issues confronting child safety in Arizona: an increasing number of reports of child abuse and neglect, a growing number of kids in foster care and a revolving door for a quarter of the children caught up in the child-welfare system. The reports — one from a University of Chicago research institution and one from the state’s newly created Division of Child Safety and Family Services — come as a task force appointed by Gov. Jan Brewer continues work on a plan to create a new child-welfare agency to replace the scandal-plagued Child Protective Services. The task force is aiming for a May 1 deadline to present a draft legislative bill, which then must be vetted by lawmakers…”

Arizona Daily Star Series on Foster Care

Special Series: Arizona’s Foster Care Crisis, series homepage, Arizona Daily Star: “Arizona has seen a huge spike in kids placed in foster care, even as other states see declines. Nationally, the number of children in out-of-home care fell 18 percent between 2007 and 2012. Forty-one states saw a decrease. But in Arizona, the number of kids in out-of-home care soared 48 percent. Today, more than 15,300 children are in out-of-home care. Worst of all, this surge comes as fewer families are willing to be foster parents. ‘Arizona’s foster care crisis’ examines the reasons for the spike, and what can be done to ease the crisis…”

State Minimum Wage – Arizona

Arizona minimum wage to increase to $7.90 an hour, By Howard Fischer, October 16, 2013, Yuma Sun: “Come January, Arizona’s minimum wage workers will be able to afford an extra Big Mac a week. But not if they want fries and a drink with it. The state Industrial Commission voted Wednesday for a 10-cent-an-hour hike in the state minimum wage. That will bring the figure to $7.90 an hour. By contrast, the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour, a figure it has been stuck at since 2009…”