Arkansas Children

National Association for Education of Young Children

Licensed childcare providers in Arkansas can now apply for funding to help pay for costs associated with COVID-19. The state's Department of Human Services announced on Friday the receipt of $41 million in federal assistance from the  Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

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The number of calls being made to Arkansas's hotline for child abuse is down, but some are concerned that may not be an accurate indicator. With schools closed for the remainder of the school year, experts say one of the primary safety nets for helping abused children has been removed.

According to Elizabeth Pulley, the Executive Director of the Children's Advocacy Centers of Arkansas, most reports of abuse come from educators trained to spot the signs.

archildrens.org

Families affected by peanut allergies— which are often severe, especially for children— now have the opportunity to receive treatment from a drug recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

The drug, Palforzia, stems from an 18-year research effort from the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute on the campus of Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

DHS Division of Children and Family Services Director Mischa Martin points to a chart included in the report showing improvements to Arkansas's child welfare system during a meeting with reporters Wednesday.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A new report from the state says Arkansas is making major progress toward improving its child welfare system, which drew praise from Gov. Asa Hutchinson Wednesday. A few years ago the state had a disproportionate number kids in foster care, workers with unmanageable caseloads and partners who said they weren’t getting the support needed.

(Left to right) Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, director of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute Cheryl May, Colleen Nick, Arkansas state Rep. Rebecca Petty and AMBER Alert National Coordinator Derek VanLuchene at Thursday's press conference ann
Renea Goddard / KUAR News

In 1995, the abduction of a six-year-old girl named Morgan Nick from a ballpark in Alma, Arkansas made national headlines. 24 years later, her mother Colleen Nick stood at the podium during a press conference in the Criminal Justice Institute in Little Rock Thursday, alongside officials from the AMBER Alert program, the Arkansas State Police, and the Attorney General’s Office, to formally recognize Arkansas as the first state in the nation to achieve certification for its multi-agency Child Abduction Response Teams (CARTs).

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Arkansas’ overall ranking improved from 41st to 40th in the latest annual Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Book. Its economic well-being ranking improved from 44th to 36th, but its health ranking fell from 30th to 37th after it experienced its first decline in children covered by health insurance since 2010.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the state Department of Youth Services say two of the state's juvenile treatment centers will be closed and the five others will be run by private operators under contracts with the state as part of a plan to improve juvenile justice.

Hutchinson said Friday the treatment center at Dermott will close and the center at Colt will be merged into one in Harrisburg.

The state-run centers are separate from county juvenile detention centers, some of which have been plagued by allegations of mistreatment and poor infrastructure.

Workgroups organized by AFMC are trying to combat adverse childhood experiences.
Creative Commons

A recent study published by Child Trends found that 56 percent of children in Arkansas have had at least one adverse childhood experience, or ACE, compared to the national average of 45 percent. That's the highest of any state in the nation. An ACE is defined as a "potentially traumatic event, ranging from abuse and neglect to living with an adult with a mental illness. They can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being in childhood or later in life."

Image of an upset child.
Creative Commons

A new study published by Child Trends says children in Arkansas are more likely to go through an adverse childhood experience (ACE) than all other states. The non-profit organization says such an experience can include children’s parents who divorce, parental incarceration, and living with an adult battling substance abuse. The group says it aims to improve the lives and prospects of children and their families. 

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Arkansas the most obese state in the nation in 2014, the state’s weight epidemic is now leveling off, and health officials hope obesity rates will start to go down.

Morgan Nick
Wikipedia

Authorities are searching an eastern Oklahoma property that was searched years ago in connection with the 1995 disappearance of a 6-year-old Arkansas girl.

Investigators aren't saying whether this week's search is connected to the unsolved abduction of Morgan Nick, for whom Arkansas' missing-child alert system is named.

The search is taking place in Spiro, Oklahoma, about 25 miles southwest of the Arkansas town of Alma where Morgan was last seen at a baseball field. Investigators say Morgan was abducted from a Little League game as she chased fireflies with friends.

A group of teens play volleyball during recess at a youth lockup facility in Harrisburg in Northeast Arkansas. They are in custody for doing things like breaking and entering, possessing a firearm, or stealing a car, and they will be there anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.

One Heart Playground
Jeff Caplinger / City of North Little Rock

A specially designed playground for children with varying degrees of physical impairments is to open Thursday at North Little Rock’s Burns Park. The One Heart Playground will also accommodate adults with disabilities who want to be with children as they play.

A grand opening is set for 2 p.m. at the playground, which is near the Funland Amusement Park and the rocket slide. But the cost of the project ended up being more than had been originally anticipated.

Department of Human Services Director Cindy Gillespie and shows a progress chart to reporters alongside Division of Children and Family Services Director Mischa Martin.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A year after Arkansas reached an alarming record in the number of children in foster care – and the governor said the system was in crisis – the state’s top child welfare officials say significant improvements have been made. But in a meeting with reporters Wednesday, they acknowledged there’s still much more work to be done.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Visitors to Little Rock's Central High School will now have a way to explore the school’s historic past. An app developed by the Central High Civil Rights Memory Project in partnership with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, uses first-person accounts to narrate a walking tour of the school.

George West taught civics at Central High, and now serves as education outreach coordinator at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. He has seen firsthand the impact the project has had on students.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson holds up an action plan from the Department of Human Services. DHS Director Cindy Gillespie stands to the side.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Governor Asa Hutchinson is once again opening up Arkansas’s youth treatment centers to private operators. The state’s residential facilities for children in the juvenile justice system had long been operated privately but the state took over operations in January following a legislative impasse over bidders.

The state begins the bidding process again in December. Department of Human Services - Division of Youth Services Director Betty Guhman said the state’s made improvements while at the helm that they want carried over by private operators.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen
PBS

The Arkansas Parole Board is halting action under the state's new law that eliminates mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles after a judge said it's unconstitutional.

Willie Freeman says he used to avoid smiling, and if he did, it was in a way almost no one could see, with his mouth closed. He was embarrassed of his rotten teeth.

“I wouldn’t go around people and if I did smile, you know, nobody would see me smile,” said Freeman. “My teeth was so messed up, you know, I had gaps everywhere,” he said sitting in an office at Little Rock’s low-income, non-profit Harmony Health Clinic, waiting for an appointment.

Marissa Marisa Pavan Birth Certificate certificates same-sex marrriage
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Supreme Court has ruled for same-sex couples who complained an Arkansas birth certificate law discriminated against them.

The justices on Monday issued an unsigned opinion reversing an Arkansas high court ruling that upheld the law.

Under the law, married lesbian couples had to get a court order to have both spouses listed as parents on their children's birth certificates.

Report Finds More Than One In Four Arkansas Kids Live In Poverty

Jun 13, 2017
Rich Huddleston Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
Arkansas Business

Arkansas has much work to do to raise itself from the bottom of the barrel when it comes to overall child well-being. The Natural State ranked No. 45 out of 50 states in the Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count report released Tuesday. The state ranking slipped one notch from a year ago.

Roughly 188,000 Arkansas children are living in poverty. That comes to 27% up from 26% reported a year ago. Nationally the child poverty rate is 21%, slightly better than 22% in the last year’s report.

The theme for 2017's nationwide summer reading program is "Build a Better World."
Collaborative Summer Library Program / Collaborative Summer Library Program

Libraries across Arkansas will join libraries nationwide to encourage patrons to “Build a Better World” this summer.

The summer reading program is an event in which libraries across the country, united by a common theme, promote reading and educational activities during the months most schools are closed.

State Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs) presenting her bill in the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee.
arkansashouse.org

A drug testing program for Arkansans seeking help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF, is one step closer to becoming law. A House committee on Tuesday passed the bill to extend a two year trial run indefinitely.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Arkansans with an interest in issues related to children and a desire to engage in the political process and will have the opportunity Tuesday at the state Capitol.

At the beginning of every regular legislative session Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) and the Arkansas Kids Count Coalition organize Kids Count Day at the Capitol. The event is a full day of activities including a rally, meetings with legislators, and information on upcoming bills related to children and families.

Arkansas foster care officials say a proposed $26 million budget increase will allow them to hire hundreds of more staffers over the next two years as they try to cut down caseloads and increase the number of homes available for children in the state's custody.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

Johnelle Shaw is a 27-year-old first-time mother with a two-month old son, Logan. She is visiting a lactation consultant at The Pulaski County Health Unit in Southwest Little Rock. Logan has a cold and is back for a breastfeeding check-in.  The consultant weighs him in at 7.6 ounces, a full pound bigger than he was at his last visit a month before.

Arkansas Advocates For Children And Families Executive Director Rich Huddleston.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Child advocates on Wednesday called on candidates and elected officials to place more of an emphasis on children’s issues during this year’s elections and in next year’s state legislative session.

Arkansas Department of Human Services Logo
arkansas.gov

More Arkansas children are entering foster care than leaving the system, and there are more than three times as many foster children as foster homes. So the Department of Human Services is trying to streamline the process of creating more of those homes.

Harrisburg Treatment Center
humanservices.arkansas.gov

The Arkansas Division of Youth Services is planning to stop using its Arkansas-based providers in all but one of the state's juvenile treatment centers and correctional facilities, in favor of a single company from Indiana.

At a meeting of the Children and Youth Committee on Monday, Interim Director Betty Guhman said the state will also boost its per-bed, per-day rate for juvenile offenders by 58 percent – from $147 a day to $232. State Senator Linda Chesterfield said she wants to know from where the additional funds come.

The new Interim Director of the Department of Human Services Division of Youth Services Betty Guhman.
The Arkansas Governor's Office.

The Division of Youth Services at the Arkansas Department of Human Services has a new interim director. DHS announced on Tuesday that Betty Guhman, a long-time advisor to Governor Asa Hutchinson, will serve in the role.

She’s worked with Hutchinson since his days in Congress but began her career at DHS in 1973 as a protective service worker. Spokeswoman Amy Webb says Guhman was involved with the division’s inception.

Cindy Gillespie DHS director
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas Department of Human Services director Cindy Gillespie is moving quickly to implement reforms in the state’s largest agency, and she anticipates the foundation for many policy changes to be laid prior to the 2017 legislative session.

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