Maria Polletta is an investigative reporter for the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, focused on covering inequities in education. Prior to joining AZCIR, she covered state government and politics for The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network, leading breaking and enterprise watchdog coverage of the Arizona Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Office and state Supreme Court.
Youth access to mental health care improved under Jake’s Law, but persistent barriers hamper its reach
By: Shaena Montanari/AZCIR and Maria Polletta/AZCIR - September 1, 2022
In March 2020, Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a sweeping set of measures designed to help curb rising rates of suicide and expand access to mental health treatment for Arizona residents with and without insurance. Commonly known as Jake’s Law, the legislation was named after Jake Machovsky, a 15-year-old who died by suicide in […]
A national epicenter for Valley fever infections, Arizona gets first major state funding boost in 15 years
By: Maria Polletta/AZCIR - April 12, 2022
Researchers from Arizona’s three state universities will get $3.1 million to pinpoint hotspots and infection patterns for Valley fever, providing new tools to combat the fungal disease that sickens more people in Arizona than in any other state. The three-year grant, awarded to the Valley Fever Collaborative by the Arizona Board of Regents, represents the […]
Report: Child care woes cost Arizona economy $1.8 billion a year
By: Maria Polletta/AZCIR - December 7, 2021
Instability in Arizona’s child care system is costing the state an estimated $1.8 billion in economic activity a year, according to a new U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report, as gaps in care force parents to forgo professional and educational opportunities. Though access to child care proved to be “a concern for nearly every working […]
State leaders’ decade of neglect imperiled fragile child care system. The pandemic nearly made it collapse.
By: Maria Polletta/AZCIR - November 4, 2021
As coronavirus cases crept up across Arizona in March 2020, Gov. Doug Ducey announced a statewide school shutdown meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. It was, at the time, the most aggressive step state leaders had taken to prevent infections. And for employees and clients at Yuma child care center Desert Trails, who’d grown […]
COVID-19 is surging in Arizona schools, but parents are left in the dark
By: Maria Polletta/AZCIR and Shaena Montanari/AZCIR - August 31, 2021
As COVID-19 infections surge in Arizona schools, sickening thousands of students and staff and forcing thousands more into quarantine, parents — and the public at large — have been left without a comprehensive picture of where Arizona students and educators are contracting the virus. A patchwork of outbreak and quarantine notifications from school districts has […]