JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas' legislative session plays an important role in the lives of Arkansas children and families, an official with a state children's group said.
The Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families hosted a conference in Jonesboro Wednesday to discuss how decisions in the last session have affected Arkansas children and families.
Rich Huddleston, executive director at AACF, said his organization helps advocate for those who can't advocate for themselves.
"A statewide nonprofit child advocacy group that conducts public policy research and advocacy to improve public policy for children and families in the state," Huddleston said.
The conference was one of three events planned for the state.
"The purpose today is to really help educate folks about all the big policy, legal changes that happened during the recent legislative session," Huddleston said.
Nonprofits, educators, and business leaders attended the conference to learn specifically what was good and what was bad for children and families this last session.
"It did have in it some funding increases in some ways for children and families, but they've already announced budget cuts so I think that's an issue to pay attention to," Huddleston said.
Something they watch daily is the state budget and how the state will respond to the new federal legislation.
Huddleston said the special session happening this week is also at the top of their list because Arkansas legislators are discussing changes to Arkansas Works.
"Those changes could have major impacts in terms of who is getting coverage and how much they are going to have to pay to keep that coverage," Huddleston said.
What happens on the state level and national level is something Huddleston said they must focus on and report because no one else is looking out for Arkansas children and families.
"There are well financed, special interest groups that lobby on behalf of business and other folks, but when it comes to children and families, especially low-income and vulnerable families, they don't have a well-payed interest group," Huddleston said. "It's really just groups like us and private citizens who choose to become advocates on their own."
The AACF is celebrating its 40th year.
Huddleston said they are proud of the work they've done specifically helping create AR Kids First and helping expand quality pre-k for children.
For more information on what this organization does and to view its research, click here.
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