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December 15, 2015

Attention's on Foster Care in House, Senate  


Michigan’s Children is weighing in on current legislative efforts to improve the state’s foster care system for 13,500 children and youth. In the House, a three-bill package moved addressing a “Children’s Assurance of Quality Foster Care” policy that helps codify support for Michigan’s compliance with and expansion of federal law.

In testimony last month, President and CEO Matt Gillard addressed the need for timely delivery of services and independent assessment of service gaps, along with shifting the onus of system complaints and grievance procedures from the child to the system. The bills are now before the full House.

Action also took place to move two bills originating in the Senate last week that strengthen state efforts to keep siblings together in foster care and address parental visitation. Both have moved to the House.

Helping the 'Every Child Succeeds Act'


The President signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) last week, at long last re- defining the federal government’s role in education and the funding that can be appropriated to fulfill that role. As always, there were winners and losers in this process, and implementation has everything to do with how much investment we are willing to make. In addition, implementation will also have a lot to do with how effective advocates are in state and local decision-making.

For a detailed look at what’s in the ESSA, please turn to Michele Corey’s blog, “The ESSA Needs Our Help to Make Every Student Succeed.”



Michigan's Children Joins Juvenile Justice Advocates to 'Raise the Age'


Michigan’s Children has joined a growing number of juvenile justice advocates in support of a 21-bill legislative package aimed at reducing the number of 17-years-olds sentenced to adult prisons and reducing the offenses that can be used by judges to sentence even younger children as adults. The package has gained strong, bi-partisan support from state lawmakers who say it’s time for Michigan, one of only nine remaining states that mandatorily tries teens as adults, to reform its juvenile justice practices.  Many advocates who testified in support of these bills recently cited research on brain function, development and behavior that finds the human brain isn’t fully developed until one’s ‘20s.

Working to Connect 'My Brother's Keeper' Initiatives to Public Policy


Michigan’s Children joined other leaders to help facilitate the statewide "My Brother’s Keeper Summit" in Lansing earlier this month.  “My Brother’s Keeper” (MBK) is a national initiative launched by President Obama in 2014, and a dozen Michigan communities have taken on the MBK challenge to reduce persistent opportunity gaps among boys and young men of color.

The opportunity gaps between boys and young men of color and their peers has long been a part of Michigan’s Children’s equity focus, and the need to connect local initiatives with state level policy work continues to be key to improving statewide outcomes.   

Read more about it:  “Connecting My Brother’s Keeper to Policy” by Mina Hong.

Parents Needed to Advocate for Child Immunizations before Lawmakers, Media

 
The Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health is stepping up efforts to ensure that public policies continue to support strong immunizations rates.  The Council is seeking parent voices to illustrate how vaccines save lives in the wake of new state legislation introduced last week that would make it easier for parents to opt out of immunizing their children and limit the ability of local public health to exclude non-vaccinated children from school.

Michigan’s Children supports the Council’s efforts to raise awareness to this issue with proven, scientific-based research and parent voice. Voices are needed in testimony to legislative committees, other meetings with lawmakers and press contacts. To join the Council’s efforts, contact Bree Anderson at banderson@mcmch.org.



Take Action: Urge Congress to Pass Family- Friendly Tax Code

 
Our national partners at First Focus and the Campaign for Children are urging Congress to ensure our tax policies are family- and kid-friendly. Please join us by writing to your members of Congress in support of permanent improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, two powerful tools proven to help lift families and children out of poverty.
 
With one in four children in Michigan and one in five nationally living in poverty, a boost to these programs can make a real difference in the lives of our most vulnerable families. Find out more and let your representatives know what you think.

Foundations and Funders Make Michigan's Children's Work Possible


With the support of our major funders, Michigan’s Children has been able to retain its critical status as the state’s only independent voice for public policy reform in the best interest of children, youth and families. As 2015 comes to a close, we’d like to acknowledge Michigan-based foundations such as the W.K. Kellogg FoundationThe Skillman Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for supporting our work for public policy reform aimed at improving the odds for all children in Michigan. We also thank State Farm Insurancethe Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundationthe Blue Care Network of Michigan and the Meijer Foundation for their support. Their vision for a better world for our children inspires us to work diligently to work to close equity gaps and ensure those who face the most challenges receive the supports they need.  Working together makes positive change happen!

 
Advocacy tips to help you stand up and speak out for Michigan children. 
 

The end of the year is a good time to reach out to your elected officials to thank them for their support on key issues and to set the stage for a legislative plan for 2016. Advocate for children and families by reaching out today. Get connected through Michigan's Children's website.
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Direct Quotes
 
“I believe the only way to achieve equity in society is to achieve equity in the classroom.”
    
 -- Outgoing U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, 
to the National NAACP, July 2010

 
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Speaking for Kids is Michigan's Children's twice-a-month e-bulletin that offers public policy and budget information relating to children, youth and families in our state. 
 

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Invest in Michigan’s Children and know that your dollars make good things happen for kids and families. By working to reform public policy, this organization improves the odds for all children, and supports the work of those who provide services that help individual children overcome the odds. 
 
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