Arkansas Children

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas children who are beneficiaries of government food programs may be impacted by an upcoming vote on the Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Act in the United States Congress this fall.

Arkansas’s U.S. Senator John Boozman visited the children’s library in Little Rock Friday to learn about summer nutrition programs for kids in the state. A member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Boozman said he plans to vote in favor of the act.

“What I would like to do is find a lot more flexibility to the parties involved,” said Boozman.

Authorities continue to investigate the cause of death for a 2-year-old found dead in a car in Hot Springs. Jeff Saunders, a shift commander with the Hot Springs Fire Department, says the department and EMS workers responded to a call around 3:20 p.m. Friday concerning a dead child in a vehicle in a residential neighborhood. Saunders says the manner of death may not be known until Monday. TV station KTHV reported that when firemen arrived, police and ambulances were already on the scene. Cpl.

State Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Changes went into effect Wednesday to the previously legal practice of giving away one’s adopted children to non-relatives without state involvement. The practice known as rehoming is now a felony.

The measure, sponsored by State Representative David Meeks (R-Greenbrier) was passed in the final days of the 2015 regular session of the Arkansas Legislature. The legislation followed reports in the Arkansas Times of Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) rehoming his daughters to a family friend and employee who was later convicted of raping multiple minors.

State Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Changes went into effect Wednesday to the previously legal practice of giving away one’s adopted children to non-relatives without state involvement. The practice known as rehoming is now a felony.

The measure, sponsored by State Representative David Meeks (R-Greenbrier) was passed in the final days of the 2015 regular session of the Arkansas Legislature. The legislation followed reports in the Arkansas Times of Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) rehoming his daughters to a family friend and employee who was later convicted of raping multiple minors.

An annual report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that the number of Arkansas children living in poverty is still well above the national average. Twenty-nine percent of the state's children live in poverty. But Arkansas has made strides in health coverage for kids. KUAR's Chris Hickey recently spoke with Rich Huddleston of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families about the findings of the 2015 Kids Count Data Book.

 

  More facts from the report.

Amidst increased attention to child welfare issues brought on by investigations of State Rep. Justin Harris's (R-West Fork) "rehoming" of his two adopted daughters, the Arkansas Department of Human Services held a rally at the State Capitol Friday to observe Child Abuse Awareness Month.

  Actions came from both the governor’s office and a state House committee Tuesday to address controversy over Representative Justin Harris “rehoming” two of his adopted daughters without state oversight to a non-relative. 

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

One of Arkansas’s leading advocacy groups for children and low-income people is gearing up for next month’s legislative session. Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families on Thursday in Little Rock held the last of three pre-legislative conferences hosted throughout the state. Expanding access to pre-K and reforming the juvenile justice system were among a slew of issues in which AACF's staff and guest speakers briefed attendees.

pre-K
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

A new report presented to a legislative committee Monday says $14 million is needed to raise state funding for pre-K programs to meet cost of living increases. The study also says only about half of eligible children are being served by Arkansas’s early childhood education programs.

State Representative David Kizzia joined Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families to share details of the study with members of the Education Committee. Lawmakers from Alabama and Oklahoma dialed in to discuss the successes of their pre-K programs following increases in funding.

The federal government says well more than 160 unaccompanied children in Arkansas have been placed with sponsors so far this year after they crossed the border into the United States.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement released a state-by-state breakdown Thursday of the numbers of unaccompanied minors in each state that were placed with parents, relatives or family friends after crossing the border.

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