Children’s Action Alliance (CAA) is a non-partisan non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of all of Arizona’s children.
Similar in their goals to the nationally known Children’s Defense Fund organization, CAA, with offices in Tucson and Phoenix, has advocated for children’s causes to the legislature and state government agencies for the last 31 years.
They routinely issue papers on a variety of child-centered topics including education, health care, child safety, and childcare.
Earlier this year, Siman Qaasim succeeded well-regarded Dana Wolfe Naimark as the third ever Chief Executive Officer of the Alliance.
A specialist on health issues, Ms. Qaasim had been entrusted with the children’s health portfolio at the Alliance before being chosen as its new leader.
Saying “this is the only place I want to work,” she graciously sat down at her Phoenix office to discuss the Alliance mission and priorities going into 2020.
The questions and her responses are below.
- Please tell the reader about the mission and history of the Children’s Action Alliance?
“CAA has been around for 31 years. We started as an independent voice for Arizona’s children while other lobbyists represented other interests. We take data-driven research policy-based solutions and translate them into action.”
- Please tell the reader what the Children’s Action Alliance has accomplished in the state over the last two years?
“ We are proud of removing the statutory lever on KidsCare and restoring funds to it and are working for more in 2020. We are happy that 36,000 more kids are enrolled in Kids Care. We like the huge $56,000,000 down payment infusion for childcare subsidies enabling parents to work and make their way up the career ladder. We are also very happy with $75 stipend per child for kinship families to help with out of pocket costs. And we helped change the conversation and narrative on tax cuts vs more money for education funding.”
- Please describe at least two immediate goals for moving forward as President and CEO of the Alliance?
- “Getting ready for the legislative session.”
* “Getting ready for the election as well by updating our digital capacity and infrastructure.”
- Please describe at least two long-term goals for moving forward as President and CEO of the Alliance?
- “To grow our audience larger to include younger and more diverse demographics.”
- “Engage grassroots and community organizations more effectively.”
- “We also want more of a statewide presence, especially in rural Arizona.”
- Going into 2020, what are at least three policy areas the Alliance will stress to the community as needing immediate attention at the State Legislature and please give a reason for each.
- “Kinship Families need more than $75.00 per child. They should be equal to foster care as we look for incremental increases from $75 to 250 for each child. Unlicensed families need support as well.”
- “We would like to see an increase in the child care subsidy greater than the current 25 percentile. We want DES (Department of Economic Security) to raise the benchmark to 75th percentile.”
- “We would like to see foster children who age out of the foster care system to transition to adult Medicaid more smoothly until they are 26 and eliminate barriers and red tape that are getting in the way of that.”
- “We want to see the state funding surplus used to fund investment in K-12, such as restoring the hole in district level assistance.”
- Based on the response to number five, please describe at least two methods the Alliance will employ to convince the community and legislators to give the three-policy area’s attention and priority?
“We have an amazing team of policy experts that provide reliable information. Our mission is to serve children and families.”
- Is there anything not covered in the first six questions that you would like the reader to know about yourself or the Alliance?”
“We are paying a lot of attention to the rate of uninsured children going up. Why is this happening? There is a fear about whether the Affordable Care Act will be around. Also, there is an increasing amount of fear for immigrant families, which impacts so many families in a border state. We want to stay on top of that. We don’t want people to pass up on coverage.”
Over the last 31 years, CAA has worked with a bipartisan group of legislators and agency heads in securing legislation and programs to benefit the state’s children. Ms. Qaasim commented that:
“We work regularly with state government agency heads at DES, DCS, and AHCCCS on our common goals for children’s health and safety. We have partnerships with many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. Just to name a few examples, Senators Brophy McGee, Alston, and Rios have been great partners and champions as have Representatives Cobb, Carter, Udall, Butler, Lieberman, and Friese.”
All public servants should find common cause in providing for all children and ensuring that they are well:
• Cared for.
Siman Qaasim and her team at Children’s Action Alliance are committed to making sure that all the state’s children are well provided for and will not settle for anything less.
For more information on CAA, please click on their web site www.azchildren.org.
CAA will be hosting an event on January 23, 2020, called Stories through the Eyes of a Child. It will also be an opportunity to meet Ms. Qaasim.