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Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families

Union Station, Suite 306
1400 West Markham
Little Rock, AR 72201

Phone: 501-371-9678      
Fax: 501-371-9681
Web: www.aradvocates.org
Twitter: @AACF
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ARAdvocates/

Rich Huddleston
Executive Director
Email: rhuddleston@aradvocates.org


Organization Profile
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
      • Lobbies

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.


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Locale: Arkansas
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