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story.lead_photo.caption Missy Darwin Kincaid Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families Northwest Arkansas Development Director

Mission: To ensure that all children and their families have the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives and to realize their full potential.

Services provided: Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families was created more than 40 years ago to serve as an independent voice for kids and low-income families at the Capitol. We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that fulfills our mission by promoting policy changes that will transform the everyday lives of Arkansans who have been left out for too long.

During the upcoming Arkansas General Assembly, we will lead the fight for expanding access to nutritious food, child care, housing assistance and health care. We will advocate for a state Earned Income Tax Credit to improve economic security for working families and support the elimination of fees and fines for juvenile courts.

As the pandemic continues to hurt the physical and economic well-being of our neighbors, AACF's advocacy work for racial equity and social justice is more important than ever. For example, many Arkansans are experiencing food insecurity and economic challenges. AACF identifies and advocates for public policies that improve the lives of all low-income children and their families. Better public policy can and will save lives.

• What are your organization's most pressing needs?

Unrestricted financial support is our most pressing need to fund our advocacy, research and communications. AACF does not receive state or federal funding. That allows us to serve as a respected, independent voice for all children and families. But it also means we need community support.

• Are there volunteer opportunities in your organization? Just as record numbers of voters came out for the election, we need citizens to become active advocates and work with their local elected officials in the upcoming Arkansas General Assembly. Your legislators want to hear from you! Sign up to receive our advocacy alerts and learn how to better engage decision-makers at www.aradvocates.org.

• What other ways may people help? Making a financial gift to AACF ensures we will continue to be a voice at the Capitol protecting children, improving health care for all, fighting for quality early education and promoting economic security. Be an active citizen.

Soup Sunday is our biggest fundraiser and traditionally involves hundreds of volunteers in January. We are going to celebrate our 20th Soup Sunday with a virtual event in 2021, and we hope everyone will enjoy our event from the comfort of their own living rooms and by supporting the many local restaurants who have participated in the past. Visit www.aradvocates.org/events for more information.

• Why do you work or volunteer for a nonprofit organization? Do you have a personal connection to the mission? If so, what is it?

My parents are servant leaders who instilled in me their passion for social justice and the critical work of nonprofit organizations. My connection to AACF stems from 13 years in public service in Washington, D.C., where I learned first hand how the legislative process impacts lives. The pandemic has forced us to ask tough questions about how to make systemic change, and I earnestly believe that public policy is how we will best make that change. As we prepare for Thanksgiving, let me offer a huge "thank you!" to the people of Northwest Arkansas who have been so very generous during the pandemic. We are fortunate to live in a community where neighbors help one another every day.

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Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families

Mission: To ensure that all children and their families have the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives and to realize their full potential.

(479) 927-9800 or aradvocates.org

— Carin [email protected]

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