LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A children’s advocacy group is calling on Arkansas to enact policies making it easier for immigrant families to get access to work and education after a new report illustrating their economic struggles.
The report from the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation found that about 56,000 children from immigrant families in the state live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, corresponding with an income of about $40,000 for a family of three.
“I hope this is a wakeup call to lawmakers to make the investment, not only to immigrant kids but all kids here, to have the resources they need to succeed and lead Arkansas’ economy in the future,” said Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.
Huddleston said it’s difficult for a child living in poverty to be in good health or thrive emotionally, socially and physically.
“If kids are behind today, that means the state is less likely to have a workforce able to complete in the future in-state and globally,” said Huddleston. “They don’t have everything they need to succeed.”
Laura Kellams, Northwest Arkansas director for the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and other community leaders said the state can assist children by supporting pre-kindergarten and after-school programs. They also said higher education should be more affordable.