October 19, 2015
Dear Early Childhood Supporter,
Welcome back to Michigan's Children's Early Childhood Action Network. It's been a while since my last update earlier in the summer, so this update will provide you with a recap of what's been taking place over the last several months and how you can get involved to ensure that public policies are made in the best interest of young children and their families, with a focus on families that face the most significant challenges in our state. If you have any questions about the information provided, please feel free to contact me. I welcome your input.
In this issue:
Michigan's Children, in partnership with the Early On Michigan Foundation and others, is working to build more state investment in Early On. Early On provides early intervention services to families with infants and toddlers birth to age three who have a developmental delay or disability. Unlike the majority of states, Michigan has no specific state appropriation for Early On services, which has been hugely problematic for families with young children who need these important services.
Sign-On in Support of Early On
To urge the Governor to begin investing state resource in the Early On system, Michigan's Children is circulating a sign-on letter asking Governor Snyder to consider a state investment in the fiscal year 2017 budget. If your organization or entity would like to sign-on to this letter, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org by October 30, 2015, with your organization's name as you would like it to appear on the letter. Please note, this sign-on letter is not for individuals.
Sign-on in Support of Federal Early Childhood Funding
Congress is continuing to debate national funding priorities for fiscal year 2016. Advocates across the country are working hard to increase funding for critical early learning programs, and we need to convince members of Congress to lift the spending caps created by the federal sequester to make this possible. Please join Michigan's Children and other advocates across the nation by signing-on to this letter, which will be sent to all U.S. Senators and Representatives. The letter makes it clear that we appreciate the small increases in funding for early learning programs in the House and Senate Appropriations Bills, but we believe significantly expanded investments are necessary both because of their positive impact and to meet the significant unmet need. It also urges Congress to lift the budget caps on non-defense discretionary funding imposed by the sequester in order to make these important investments. Remember, these federal funds support important programs in Michigan including the state's child care system, Head Start and Early Head Start programming, and Early On.
Please make sure that Michigan organizations are well represented on this letter by contacting Alana Eichner at email@example.com by Friday, October 23 to add your organization.
While the beginning of the fiscal year 2016 budget just went into effect earlier this month; state departments, advocates, and others are already gearing up for the fiscal year 2017 (FY2017) budget process and working to lift up the programs that matter to children, youth and families across the state. Now is the time for legislators to hear from their constituents on the issues that matter to them, their families, and their communities. As you think about engaging with your elected officials on the FY2017 budget, I want to highlight a few resources that may be of assistance:
Gearing Up for FY2017
- This Budget Basics overview provides a timeline of the state's budget-making process and opportunities for you to get involved.
- Michigan's Children has laid out the who, what, when, why, and how of getting involved in policy advocacy on our website. You can also watch this 10 minute Lighting Talk that I gave at an early childhood summit at Central Michigan University this summer on strategically engaging with policymakers.
- Refresh your memory on the early childhood funding decisions in the FY2016 budget -- this provides a good starting point to talk to your elected officials about what you liked in the budget and what you think is lacking. Check-out our Budget Basics library to learn about other FY2016 funding decisions that impact youth and families.
- Visit with your lawmakers in your communities. They are typically home Fridays through Mondays, which is a perfect time to try to meet with them. Invite them to visit your programs, attend their coffee hours, or set-up a meeting with them one-on-one to chat about the funding priorities that matter to you.
- Tell me what matters to you, your family, the families you serve, and your community about gaps that you see in public policy and budget decision-making. I am always open to hearing about concerns from our friends and partners to strengthen my understanding of what we can be doing differently in Lansing.
Michigan's Children continues to weigh-in on important policy conversations happening in Lansing. With the new State Superintendent Brian Whiston gathering information on how to make Michigan a Top 10 Education State in the next 10 years, Michigan's Children's Matt Gillard presented before Superintendent Whiston and the State Board of Education on this very topic. Some of our early childhood focus included the need to invest in the state's infants and toddlers with a specific focus on Early On, better supporting families through two-generation family literacy strategies, and preventing and mitigating trauma.
Working to Improve Education Outcomes in Our State
Michigan's Children also weighed in on HB 4822 -- otherwise known as the third grade reading bill. While there were many parts of the bill of concern to Michigan's Children, we testified specifically on how to strengthen the read-at-home plan component of the bill to fully address the challenges that many parents face. One of our recommendations was included in the bill to ensure that read-at-home plans involved not only parents and guardians but other providers who may assist with children's literacy development including after-school and child care providers. This bill passed out of the House last week and will move to the Senate. Michigan's Children continues to have concerns with this bill and will work with Senate leadership on ways to strengthen the bill.
Speaking for Kids Staff Blogs
Be sure to subscribe for our staff blogs if you haven't already to receive emails when new blogs are posted. Michigan's Children staff and interns wrote many blogs over the summer months; here are just a few that may be of interest to you: