Arkansas Early Childhood Profile
The Early Childhood Two-Generation State Policy Profile shows which state policies meet benchmarks that are favorable to the well-being of children and their families. The profile includes policies that are key elements of a two-generation approach to supporting the well-being and life opportunities of young children and their parents, in the areas of health, early care and education, and parenting and economic support.
A two-generation framework for policy design reflects extensive research that identifies the critical supports young children need over time to thrive1, 2. Most two-generation supports for young children and families are created through the collective impact of multiple policies. An example is investment in prekindergarten programs and an effective quality improvement system that promotes children’s access to high quality early care and education programs along with state policies such as the Earned Income Tax credit and minimum wage that raise the incomes of low-income working families; another is policies that ensure mental health screenings and access to quality health care for both children and parents.
A brief overview of policies in the EC Two-Generation State Policy Profile is provided below (see policy definitions for an explanation of benchmarks). The Profile is limited to policies for which 50-state data are available. Users who wish to examine additional policies specific to their state, within a two-generation framework, can find suggestions in State Policies through a Two-Generation Lens: Strengthening the Collective Impact of Policies that Affect the Life Course of Young Children and their Parents.
Health and Development
States can support young children's development by making key policy choices in early health and development. This section of ITO highlights states' policy choices for supporting young children's wellbeing: 1) Access to and continuity of health care, including state Medicaid/CHIP eligibility levels and coverage of legal immigrant children; 2) Parents' access to health care, including for low-income pregnant women, and access to a medical home for young children; and 3) Preventive screening and assessment, including adherence to recommended schedules for well-child visits.
Early Care and Education
States make important decisions about the early care and education services they provide to young children and families. This section of ITO highlights states' key policy choices that affect children's development and parents' ability to work: 1) Access to childcare, including subsidy eligibility levels and reimbursement rates; and 2) States' investment in Head Start, Early Head Start, pre-kindergarten, child care centers' class size and student-teacher ratios and investment in infant/toddler specialist networks and credentials and Quality Rating Improvement Systems.
Parenting and Economic Supports
States make critical policy choices that help low-income parents effectively support young children's healthy development. This section of ITO spotlights states' policy choices related to important economic supports for low-income families with young children: 1) TANF requirements for parents of young children; and 2) Income support policies including tax relief, earned income and dependent care tax credits, as well as child support disregards.
Health and Development Policies
Sets the income eligibility limit for public health insurance (Medicaid/CHIP) at or above 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) 4
- Children <1 year
Sets eligibility at 216% (S-CHIP) and 147% (Medicaid)
- Children 1-5 years
Sets eligibility at 216% (S-CHIP) and 147% (Medicaid)
- Children 6-18 years
Sets eligibility at 216% (S-CHIP) and 147% (Medicaid and M-CHIP)
- Pregnant women
Sets eligibility at 214% (Medicaid and Unborn Child Option: CHIP-funded)
- Provides lawfully residing immigrant children with Medicaid/CHIP coverage without 5-year waiting period 4
- Provides lawfully residing pregnant immigrant women with Medicaid/CHIP coverage without 5-year waiting period 4
- Provides temporary coverage to children under Medicaid or CHIP until eligibility can be formally determined 5
- Provides temporary coverage to pregnant women under Medicaid until eligibility can be formally determined 5
- Extends Medicaid coverage for family planning to otherwise ineligible low-income women 6
- Includes at-risk children in the definition of eligibility for IDEA Part C 7
The relationship between being an at-risk state and the number of children served varies. Some non-at-risk states have higher than average percentages of children being served in Early Intervention (EI). See graphs for the state EI data.
- Does not require redetermination of eligibility for Medicaid/CHIP more than once a year 5
- Has adopted Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act 8
- Has an online dual-benefit form to apply for Medicaid and SNAP 5
- Medicaid pays for maternal depression screening during pediatric/family medicine visits under the child's Medicaid 9
- Has at least one Help Me Grow affiliate site that has fully implemented a centralized access point 10
Arkansas does not have Help Me Grow.
EPSDT screening periodicity schedule meets recommendations of American Academy of Pediatrics [FY 2019]11
- 7 screenings for children <1 year
State requires 5 screens. 100% of eligible screens were completed in 2019.
- 4 screenings for children 1-2 years
State requires 4 screens. 100% of eligible screens were completed in 2019.
- 3 screenings for children 3-5 years
State requires 3 screens. 81% of eligible screens were completed in 2019.
- 4 screenings for children 6-9 years
State requires 2 screens. 87% of eligible screens were completed in 2019.
Early Care and Education Policies
- Sets the income eligibility limit for child care subsidies at or above 200% FPL 13
A family of three qualifies for assistance with a maximum income at $43,803 or 202% FPL. This reflects a decrease from 205% FPL in 2019.
- Uses payment rate at or above the 75th percentile of current market rate for center-based care at the highest quality QRIS tier 13
The reimbursement rate for center care for a four-year-old in urban areas at the highest quality tier was 15% higher than the rate at the lowest quality tier.
- Funds a pre-kindergarten program 14
$114,000,000 in 2020
- Supplements Head Start 14
- Requires districts to offer full day kindergarten 15
- Requires one adult for every four 18-month-olds in child care centers 16
Child care regulations require one adult for every 5 children who are birth to 18 months, and require one adult for every 8 children who are 18 months to 36 months.
- Requires one adult for every ten 4-year-olds in child care centers 16
Child care regulations require one adult for every 15 children.
- Requires one teacher for every 12 students in kindergarten classrooms 17
Requires one teacher for every 20 students, or 1:22 with aide
- Has an infant/toddler credential or certificate 18
- Requires that infants and toddlers in child care centers be assigned a consistent primary caregiver 16
- Has implemented a statewide Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) 19
- Has comprehensive, free-standing standards for social emotional learning at the K-12 level 20
- Requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree for lead teachers in public pre-K programs and licensed child care centers 21
Parenting and Economic Supports Policies
- Exempts single parents on TANF from work requirements until the youngest child reaches age 1 [FY 2019]23
Parents must return to work when child is 3 months old. Exemption limited to 12 cumulative months in the recipient's lifetime; mothers exempt due to unavailable child care for children than 12 months old also count towards limit.
- Reduces the TANF work requirement to 20 hours or less for single parents with children under age 6 [FY 2019]23
- Has paid family leave for a minimum of 6 weeks with partial replacement of wages 24
- Offers accrual of at least five paid sick days 25
- Established a state minimum wage that meets or exceeds $12.00/hr and is indexed to inflation for a family of three 26
- Sets gross income eligibility limit at 200% FPL and does not have asset limits for SNAP 27
Gross income limit is set at 130% FPL. Asset limit is $2,250.
- Does not charge personal income tax for single-parent families of three below the federal poverty level 28
- Offers a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit 29
- Offers a refundable state dependent care tax credit 30
Under Arkansas Child Care and Early Childhood Program Credit, the maximum refundable credit is $420. In order for a tax filer to claim the refundable portion of this credit, the care expenses must be incurred for children age 5 and under in an approved early childhood program.
- Offers a refundable Child Tax Credit 31
- Keeps copayments for child care subsidies at or below 7% of family income for families of three at 150% FPL 13
Copayments set at 1% of income.
- Offers exemptions and/or extensions of the TANF benefit time limit for women who are pregnant or caring for a child under 6 months of age [FY 2019]23
A parent is exempt if caring for a child under three months of age. If no child care is available, a parent is exempt if caring for a child under 12 months of age.
- Offers a minimum of 28 weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits 32
State provides up to 16 weeks of regular state-funded UI.
- Funds a housing program that provides rental assistance to low-income families with children to avoid eviction or homelessness 33
Data Notes and Sources
- Chase-Lansdale, P. L., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2014). Two-generation programs in the twenty-first century. The Future of Children, 24(1), 13-39.
- Shonkoff, J. P., & Fisher, P. A. (2013). Rethinking evidence-based practice and two-generation programs to create the future of early childhood policy. Development and psychopathology, 25(4pt2), 1635-1653.
- State data were calculated from the 2016-2020 American Community Survey, representing information from the years 2016 to 2020. National data were calculated from the 2019 American Community Survey, representing information from 2019. We did not use the 2020 American Community Survey data for the U.S. due to the dataset's experimental nature and caution about its reliability.
- Brooks, T., Gardner, A., Tolbert, J., Dolan, R., & Pham, O. (2021). Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility, Enrollment, and Cost Sharing Policies as of January 2021: Findings from a 50-State Survey. Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://files.kff.org (accessed June 25, 2021).
- Brooks, T., Roygardner, L., Artiga, S., Pham, O., & Dolan, R. (2020). Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility, Enrollment, and Cost Sharing Policies as of January 2020: Findings from a 50-State Survey. Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. http://files.kff.org (accessed July 7, 2020).
- Guttmacher Institute. (2022). Medicaid Family Planning Eligibility Expansions. https://www.guttmacher.org (accessed April 25, 2022).
- The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center. (2021). State and Jurisdictional Eligibility Definitions for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Under IDEA Part C. https://ectacenter.org (accessed March 10, 2021).
- Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. (2021). Status of State Action on the Medicaid Expansion Decision. https://www.kff.org (accessed June 25, 2021).
- National Academy for State Health Policy. (2021). Medicaid Policies for Maternal Depression Screening During Well-Child Visits, by State. https://healthychild.nashp.org (accessed February 26, 2021).
- Help Me Grow National Center. (2020). Help Me Grow Network Affiliates. https://helpmegrownational.org Email correspondences from Cassandra Therriault on August 3, 2021.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2019). The Annual EPSDT Report (Form CMS-416) for FY 2019. https://www.medicaid.gov (accessed January 25, 2021).
- Early Intervention (EI) rates were calculated by using data from two sources: 2018-2019 EI cumulative counts collected by the US Department of Education and 2011-2019 American Community Survey data. Estimates of the population of children under 3 were averages of single-year ACS data from 2011 to 2019. EI rates are not displayed where cell size for the numerator (number of children in EI) is missing, or cell size for the denominator (total number of children) is less than 200.
- Schulman, K. (2020). On the Precipice: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2020. National Women's Law Center. https://nwlc.org (accessed July 15, 2021).
- Friedman-Krauss, A. H., Barnett, W. S., Garver, K. A., Hodges, K. S., Weisenfeld, G. G., & Gardiner, B.A. (2021). The State of Preschool 2020: State Preschool Yearbook. National Institute for Early Education Research. https://nieer.org (accessed April 25, 2022).
- Education Commission of the States. (2020). 50-State Comparison: State Kindergarten-Through-Third-Grade Policies. https://internal-search.ecs.org (accessed January 25, 2021).
- NCCP's review of state child care licensing regulations as of August 12, 2021. Policies were retrieved from the National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations. https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov
- Kelley, B., Weyer, M., McCann, M., Broom, S., & Keily, T. (2020). 50-State Comparison: State Kindergarten-Through-Third-Grade Policies. Education Commission of the States. https://reports.ecs.org (accessed August 10, 2021).
- Administration for Children & Families, National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning. (2018). State/Territory Infant/Toddler Credential Overview, May 2018. https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov (accessed December 3, 2018).
- The Quality Compendium. (2021). Individual State Profiles. The BUILD Initiative. https://qualitycompendium.org (accessed February 17, 2022).
- The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). (2021). State Scan Scorecard Project. https://casel.org (accessed July 27, 2021).
- McLean, C., Austin, L.J.E., Whitebook, M., & Olson, K.L. (2021). Early Childhood Workforce Index 2020. Berkeley, CA: Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley. https://cscce.berkeley.edu (accessed March 10, 2021).
- U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2019 Math and Reading Assessment. https://nces.ed.gov (accessed June 30, 2020).
- Shantz, K., Dehry, I., Knowles, S., Minton, S., & Giannarelli, L. (2020). Welfare Rules Databook: State TANF Policies as of July 2019. OPRE Report 2020-141. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://wrd.urban.org (accessed February 2, 2021).
- National Partnership for Women & Families. (2022). State Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Laws. https://www.nationalpartnership.org (accessed May 4, 2022).
- National Partnership for Women & Families. (2021). Paid Sick Days - State and District Statutes. https://www.nationalpartnership.org (accessed July 27, 2021).
- National Conference of State Legislatures. (2022). State Minimum Wages. http://www.ncsl.org (accessed May 4, 2022).
- National Center for Children in Poverty (2021). 50-State Policy Tracker. https://www.nccp.org (accessed April 28, 2022).
- National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP). (2018). 50-State Data, Income Tax Liability. Obtained internally through email correspondence with Seth Hartig dated on July 21, 2020.
- Waxman, S., & Legendre, J. (2021). States Can Adopt or Expand Earned Income Tax Credits to Build Equitable, Inclusive Communities and Economies. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. https://www.cbpp.org (accessed July 28, 2021).
- National Women's Law Center. (2022). Making Care Less Taxing: State Child and Dependent Care Tax Provisions, Tax Year 2021. https://nwlc.org (accessed April 5, 2022).
- Tax Credits for Workers and Their Families. (2021). State Tax Credits Maps. http://www.taxcreditsforworkersandfamilies.org (accessed July 6, 2021).
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (2021). Policy Basics: How Many Weeks of Unemployment Compensation Are Available? https://www.cbpp.org (accessed July 9, 2021).
- NCCP's review of state funded rental housing programs as of August 10, 2021. Programs were retrieved from the National Low Income Housing Coalition Database. https://reports.nlihc.org