Children + Families

SESSION SNAPSHOT: Arkansas Legislature rolls through Week 4 with ice and amendments

BY: - February 3, 2023

The fourth week of the Arkansas General Assembly’s 2023 legislative session brought lots of ice and amendments. Senate Bill 43, which targeted drag shows, has demanded the most attention of any legislation through the first month of the session, but by the time the House and Senate adjourned for the weekend, it had been so […]

Arkansas child and family advocacy group names new executive director

BY: - February 2, 2023

Keesa Smith, a former deputy director for the state’s Department of Human Services, is the new executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, the group announced Thursday. Smith will start with the longtime advocacy and public policy organization on Feb. 20, replacing Rich Huddleston, who retired last year after almost two decades at […]

Rep. Tippi McCullough (D-Little Rock) speaks against a bill that would regulate drag performances as adult businesses on the floor of the Arkansas House of Representatives on Feb. 1, 2023. (Screenshot)

Two LGBTQ-specific bills move forward in Arkansas Legislature

BY: - February 1, 2023

Two proposed laws that activists say discriminate against LGBTQ Arkansans progressed in the state Legislature Wednesday. State Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville) is sponsoring both bills and has said repeatedly that they are meant to protect children from sexual behavior that could emotionally damage them. House Bill 1156 would restrict bathroom use in public schools based […]

COMMENTARY
ACLU Executive Director Holly Dickson speaks against Senate Bill 43. At left is bill sponsor Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch). (Photo by John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

Arkansas’ would-be religious tyrants gather steam with ‘culture-war’ bills

BY: - January 23, 2023

I grew up Catholic in a deeply Catholic region of Louisiana. I don’t think I met any non-Catholics until after second grade. Imagine my surprise when I realized that not only were there Christians who worshiped differently from me but believed in a totally different Jesus. Imagine my consternation when I learned that some Christians […]

U.S. House agriculture leaders discuss anti-hunger measures in upcoming farm bill

BY: - January 18, 2023

WASHINGTON — The new Republican chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee and a top Democrat on the panel on Wednesday laid out anti-hunger initiatives Congress could tackle in the upcoming farm bill. During a panel discussion, Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania, the new head of the Agriculture Committee, said he believes members of […]

Rep. Tippi McCullough, Sen. Greg Leding

Arkansas legislative Democrats promise to fight, acknowledge bleak numbers

BY: - January 11, 2023

Democratic leaders know they don’t have the numbers to win many battles in the Arkansas Legislature, but they still plan to try to find common ground with Republicans and fight bills they oppose. Arkansas Democrats hold essentially no power as a group after Republicans solidified supermajorities in both the state House and Senate during November’s […]

Here’s what you need to know about new workplace protections for pregnant, nursing workers

BY: - January 5, 2023

The $1.7 trillion federal spending bill President Joe Biden signed last week ushers in expanded protections for workers who are pregnant or nursing. Proponents of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act — both included as amendments to the spending bill — say the measures clarify rights for these workers, […]

Black woman holding newborn baby in hospital bed

Remainder of $1M pregnancy resource center grant will be distributed this month

BY: - January 4, 2023

Arkansas’ grant for pregnancy resource centers will assist a total of 23 facilities after distributing the rest of the $1 million grant fund created in 2022, according to the state Department of Finance and Administration. The taxpayer-funded grant supports “crisis pregnancy centers,” maternity homes, adoption agencies, and “social service agencies that provide material support and […]

Child poverty rates highest in states that haven’t raised minimum wage

BY: - December 28, 2022

Of the 20 states that have failed to raise the minimum wage above the federal $7.25 an hour standard, 16 have more than 12% of their children living in poverty, according to a States Newsroom analysis of wage and poverty data. Anti-poverty advocates say that’s a sign that there’s an urgent need for lawmakers to […]

A man and a boy draw with chalk on a sidewalk in 2021 to celebrate new monthly expanded child tax credit payments. Hopes that the credit would be revived by the end of 2022 vanished Tuesday when a major spending package did not include the proposal. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for ParentsTogether)

Child tax credit expansion left out of congressional omnibus package

BY: - December 20, 2022

WASHINGTON — Any last hopes of resurrecting the expanded child tax credit as part of Congress’ massive spending package were dashed early Tuesday when the 4,155-page bill was released without a mention of the tax benefit. The temporary expanded child tax credit, part of a COVID-19 relief deal in 2021, allowed more low-income families, including […]

Supporters of Abbey Lynn Steele stand outside the Pennington County Jail on Dec. 6, 2022. (Courtesy photo)

‘An addict and treated like a criminal’: Native woman’s death sparks questions

BY: - December 19, 2022

In May of 2021, Abbey Lynn Steele gave birth to her first child, a baby boy. A urine test showed methamphetamine in his system. Steele, who turned 19 that month, also tested positive for meth. The drug’s detection in the baby’s urine assured that Steele would not keep full custody under South Dakota law. Its […]

A white woman consoles her daughter because the younger woman became pregnant. (Getty Images)

Arkansas pregnancy centers seek almost $500,000 in second round of state grants

BY: - December 12, 2022

Pregnancy resource centers throughout Arkansas asked the state in November for a total of nearly half a million dollars, much of what’s left in a state fund aimed at facilities that discourage clients from ending their pregnancies. Nine of the 16 applicants for this second round of funding also applied for the first round in […]