Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
Union Station, Suite 306
1400 West Markham
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: 501-371-9678 x102
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) is a non-profit, non-partisan, child advocacy organization founded in 1977. AACF is not a state agency and does not provide any direct services to the public. As advocates, AACF researches, educates, debates, dialogues, compromises and rethinks children’s issues. AACF performs an invaluable role for which most other people do not have the time. AACF:
- Analyzes public policy issues
- Makes legislation more digestible
- Translates technical intricacies
- Monitors processes
- Calculates impacts
And, AACF does all these things in order to create sounder public policies (laws) for Arkansas’ children and their families.
Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families was founded in October 1977 by a group of prominent Arkansans, including U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, who believed that children needed an “independent force to provide information and education to parents and citizens about our state’s policies toward children and families.” AACF's original mission statement simply stated: “Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families is a nonprofit statewide organization of private citizens working for the protection, education and well-being of our state’s children.” Today, AACF's mission statement remains much like our original statement: “… To protect and promote, through research, education and advocacy, the rights and well-being of Arkansas children and their families, to assure that they have the opportunity to lead healthy and productive lives.”
For 30 years, AACF has provided the leadership, research and advocacy to promote systemic reforms that have improved the lives of Arkansas children. AACF was the first advocacy organization to produce a statistical profile on the state of children. The 1978 publication, Arkansas Children Have Problems, led to many similar efforts throughout the country and was an early start to what is now the sophisticated Kids Count Data Book. In 1983, AACF began the first research into the diverse and often ill conducted juvenile court hearings in Arkansas. It was the beginning of constitutional reform that culminated in the Supreme Court declaring the state juvenile justice system unconstitutional in 1987. And with AACF's leadership, a new court system was adopted.
Similarly, AACF has worked to improve the delivery of health services to Arkansas children. In 1997, then Gov. Mike Huckabee began to set his legislative priorities; AACF's executive director persuaded him to support expanding Medicaid eligibility to include children in families with income up to 200 percent of poverty. This suggestion was the beginning of an important partnership between the child advocacy organization and the new Republican governor. The General Assembly voted unanimously to support the proposal that became known as ARKids First. AACF continued partnering with the state to conduct outreach and enrollment campaigns resulting in over 150,000 children receiving health insurance coverage.
AACF has also been a leader in the fight to make quality preschool available to at risk three- and four-year-olds in the state. AACF pushed for $100 million in annual funding for pre-k and each session since then a portion was approved. During the 2007 session, the final $40 million installment was approved by the Legislature, marking a huge win for Arkansas kids.
As it looks to the future, AACF will continue being a voice for Arkansas kids when it comes to healthcare, education, child welfare, and juvenile justice and the creation of a more fair state and local tax system.
YOUTH JUSTICE LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE ALUMNI MEMBER
Found 26 matches.
Recently, we spoke with Marion Andrew Humphrey, Organizational Specialist at the National Education Association in Little Rock, Arkansas. Marion is a fellow in NJJN's Youth Justice Leadership Institute, a year-long program that aims to create a more effective foundation for the juvenile justice reform movement by developing a strong base of well-trained and well-prepared advocates and organizers who reflect the communities most affected by juvenile justice system practices and policies.
Paul Kelly of Arkansas argues for community-based alternatives over lockup for youth in trouble with the law. Cites specific examples of recent positive reforms.
E-newsletter from June 12, 2014. Includes: - Colorado Passes Bill to Ensure Early Access to Counsel - D.C. Member Teams with National Partner to Keep District Youth Out of Adult System - Michigan Report Shows High Cost of Kids in Adult Justice System - Arkansas Member's Report Prompts Reform to Youth Detention Data Collection
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (an NJJN member) released a recent report that evaluates data on youth detention in the state.
Reviews the harmful impact of juvenile detention, its use and misuse in Arkansas. Makes recommendations for detention reform.
Arkansas Eliminates Mandatory Sentence of Life without Parole for Youth Convicted of Capital Murder, H.B. 1993
Pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, Arkansas passed legislation that eliminates mandatory life without parole sentences for youth convicted of capital murder for offenses committed prior to the age of 18. The new law allows instead a sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 28 years. Prior to this revision, any youth convicted of capital murder received a mandatory sentence of life without parole. The law is not retroactive. H.B. 1993/Act No. 1490, signed into law and effective April 22, 2013.
Finding that “the criminal justice system is not the appropriate place for sexually exploited children because it serves to retraumatize them and increase their feelings of low self-esteem,” the Arkansas Legislature passed the “Safe Harbor Victims Act” to help protect children who are victims of sex trafficking. The law mandates an interim study on child sex trafficking and creates a fund to help pay for services and treatment for youth who are trafficked. Additionally, the law requires the state Department of Human Services to develop a statewide protocol for the delivery of services to sexually exploited children and encourages training of law enforcement and prosecutors in how to identify and provide services for sexually exploited children. S.B. 869/Act No.1267, signed into law April 16, 2013; effective August 16, 2013.
Juvenile Law Center and National Juvenile Defender Center, NJJN partners, filed an amicus brief in support of protecting youth from life sentences.
Brief for Petitioner, Kuntrell Jackson, in the case of Jackson v. Hobbs. Also see, Miller v. Alabama.
Little Rock, Arkansas One-Cent Sales Tax Provides an Additional $3 Million for Community-Based Youth Programming
On September 6, 2011, the city of Little Rock passed a one-cent sales tax increase that included, in the public safety section of the proposal, $3 million in additional revenue for prevention, intervention and treatment (PIT) programs to reduce juvenile crime.
The fees collected from participants in juvenile court are now used to fund and support youth and court programs. The law provides that the funds in each county may be used to support juvenile drug courts, teen courts, volunteer probation programs, court-appointed special advocates, and after-school and community-based programs. Prior to the law, only limited types of funds collected could be spent on juvenile court programs. The new law broadens the categories of fees that can be used to support youth programs and clarifies which types of juvenile court programs may be supported by the fees.
General description of Arkansas DYS and juvenile justice system processing.
Fact sheet from Arkansas on the negative effects of detention of youth.
Fact sheet from Arkansas on benefits of community-based programs.
Fact sheet including national and Arkansas-specific data on youth in the justice system.
Fact sheet detailing the reasons reform is needed in Arkansas, including high expenses, negative impacts on public safety, and poor outcomes for youth.
Finding the current education program of the Arkansas Division of Youth Services (DYS) "lacking," the General Assembly passed a law that requires the Arkansas Department of Education to establish guidelines for and monitor DYS' education system for youth in its residential facilities.
The Arkansas Division of Youth Services must file with the court a treatment plan for all committed youth no later than 30 days from the commitment order or before the youth's release, whichever is sooner. Treatment plans must detail the type of programs and services to be provided to the youth; state the anticipated length of commitment; include recommendations as to the most appropriate post-commitment placement for the youth; detail any post-commitment community-based services that will be offered to the youth and his or her family; and outline an aftercare plan.
Arkansas Sets Forth Factors to Determine Whether a Juvenile's Confession Is Voluntary, Arkansas, S.B. 788/Act 759
Sets factors including the juvenile's maturity, whether the confession was coerced, whether the juvenile's parent or guardian who may have agreed to the interrogation had an interest adverse to the juvenile, and whether the confession was audio or video recorded. Additionally, in regard to a determination of whether a juvenile voluntarily waived counsel, the statute specifically requires the court to consider whether the waiver was recorded in audio or video format.
The Arkansas General Assembly codified factors for the court to consider when determining if a youth's confession was made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. The factors include the youth's maturity, whether the confession was coerced, whether a parent or guardian who agreed to the youth's interrogation had an interest adverse to the youth, and whether the confession was audio- or video-recorded. Additionally, with regard to a determination of whether a youth voluntarily waived counsel, the statute specifically requires the court to consider whether the waiver was recorded in audio or video format.
Juvenile Justice in Arkansas: A Long Road to a Promising Future, Paul Kelly, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
Report urging Arkansas to take advantage of a drop in juvenile crime rates to move from an institution-based system to one that allows youth to be treated for underlying problems in their communities. The report calls on the state to move from incarcerating youth in far-away prisons where their problems may be exacerbated, to treating and preventing their conduct, behavior, and substance-abuse problems in community-based programs and facilities.
Juvenile Justice Reform in Arkansas: Building a Better Future for Youth, Their Families, and the Community, Pat Arthur and Tim Roche, in Collaboration with the Arkansas Division of Youth Services
Report calling for widespread reform of Arkansas' juvenile justice system. The report finds that many non-violent youthful offenders are being confined simply because there is not an adequate array of community-based interventions available for them and their families. The authors identify factors that lead to over-reliance on secure confinement and make specific recommendations to address each. Additionally, the report identifies specific steps that can be immediately taken to better serve youth and streamline the system.
Provides the Division of Youth Services and any community organizations working with the Division a list of parties to whom they may release records that personally identify a juvenile.
Arkansas Requires Placement Decisions for Dually Involved Youth to Be Made by One Judge, Arkansas, S.B. 370/Act 587
Aims to ensure that all matters relating to the placement of children who are in foster care and have been sent to a different jurisdiction remain with one judge.
Arkansas Closes Loophole that Allowed Some Juveniles to Be Tried in Adult Criminal Court, Arkansas, H.B. 1475/Act 257
Ensures juvenile court jurisdiction for all juveniles who are charged with committing illegal acts prior to turning 18, regardless of whether the actual trial occurs after their 18th birthday.