Alaska has long focused on resource development to ensure our families, our communities, and our great state thrive. There is no more important natural resource than Alaska’s children. Unfortunately, Governor Dunleavy’s proposed budget threatens our state’s long commitment to Alaska’s children and families by weakening access to appropriate healthcare and early childhood services.
Children are our most valuable resource; they are the future of our state. But today, Alaska’s children are hurting, and families are suffering. The 2018 Kids Count report, a joint project of Annie E. Casey Foundation and Alaska Children’s Trust, ranks Alaska 46th out of 50, near the very bottom for child well-being. Four years ago, we were ranked 27th. As proposed, the Governor’s budget could result in Alaska becoming the lowest ranked state in the nation for child well-being.
A few of the many examples of how the Governor’s budget will negatively impact our children and families are:
Eliminating Early Childhood Education – One of the key methods of reducing costs and maintaining a sustainable budget is to invest in prevention versus intervening once an issue arises. Return on investment for prevention, like early childhood education, is more fiscally prudent than waiting until children grow without supports. Children without supports are more likely to drive up health and social costs in the future. Approximately 80% of a child’s brain development occurs during the first three years of life, making support during those early years critical. The proposed budget eliminates all early childhood education and learning opportunities.
Reduced Access to Medicaid
- Reduced Access to Substance Abuse Treatment – The vast majority of cases of substantiated child abuse and neglect involve substance use. Alaska already has limited access to treatment and services. The budget proposes to cut rates for behavioral health care, which would limit access to substance abuse treatment.
- Increased use of Emergency Departments for Routine Care – The proposed budget would cut hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicaid, causing many to lose healthcare. History has shown that reduced Medicaid funding may result in more low-income families using emergency department care for routine medical care, which will ultimately increase Medicaid spending.
- Increase Children’s Uninsured Rate – Alaska’s rate of uninsured children is currently 10 percent – twice the national average. When parents lose health insurance or don’t have access to care, so do their children.
Increase in Childhood Poverty – 36% of Alaskan children live in families with wages below the federal poverty level. Economists at the University of Alaska’s Institute for Social and Economic Research have estimated that the proposed budget cuts could result in the loss of 13,000 to 17,000 jobs. When a parent is unemployed or paid low wages, their ability to provide food, stable housing, and other basic needs for their children is greatly hindered, adding stress to family’s lives and putting children in danger.
As advocates for children growing up in safe, stable, and nurturing communities, we ask you to please take a few minutes to reach out to Governor Dunleavy and your state legislators today. Go to www.alaskachildrenstrust.org/legislative. Express your opinion on what’s most important for Alaska’s future. Children are our most precious resource. Help us ensure that their opportunity to thrive continues.
Together, we can create an Alaska where all our children grow up happy, healthy, and successful.
Alaska Children’s Trust
Trevor J. Storrs
President & CEO
Alaska Children’s Trust
To learn more about the proposed budget, go to: