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Child advocacy group to make big push on Arizona lawmakers in 2016

(StockSnap Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona child advocacy groups plan to push lawmakers to make some big changes in 2016.

One of the biggest focuses for Children’s Action Alliance is  further reform to the Department of Child Safety.

The number of children in foster care continued to rise in 2015 at rates that advocacy groups called shocking and unacceptable.

“There are more than 19,000 children living in foster care,” Children’s Action Alliance President and CEO Dana Wolfe Naimark said. “They would more than fill every seat in the Phoenix Suns’ Talking Stick Arena. That is far too many.”

Children’s Action Alliance is adamant that not enough has been done in the state to establish a working and efficient child welfare system since the creation of DCS.

“(They’re struggling) catching up with the workload and with being able to connect children with safe and permanent homes in a timely way,” Naimark said. “We’ll be working with lawmakers both on legislation and on budget issues.”

Health coverage for children in working Arizona families is also top of mind for the child advocacy group.

Naimark said she would like to see the temporary enrollment freeze on KidsCare lifted in 2016. Every other state in the country has KidsCare.

“It is time for us not to leave our children behind,” she said. “The great news is we can lift that freeze at no cost to our state budget. We have 100 percent federal funding for at least two years.”

Arizona currently ranks 49th in the Unites States for its rate of uninsured children and is currently the only state in the nation without a functioning children’s health insurance program.

“Even with Obamacare, parents who are earning low incomes really struggle to pay for premiums, copays, deductibles and can’t afford the plans in the marketplace,” she said.

Children’s Action Alliance will also be pushing legislators to better fund Arizona’s education system in 2016 and their leadership team is keeping a close eye on Proposition 123.

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