February 24, 2015
Budget Basics:  An Overview of Governor’s Education Priorities in '16 Budget Plan
Wondering how Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed FY2016 budget stacks up for children and youth?  Michigan’s Children’s latest Budget Basics edition outlines his policy and spending priorities for education.  His funding priorities for the Department of Education and School Aid budgets include efforts to improve educational equity through focused efforts on third grade reading, supporting at-risk students, and expanding career and tech education. 
Kids Count Report Points to the Need for Improved Policy Strategies for Children

The latest Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, released last week, is an essential advocacy tool.  It again cites too many children are being left behind as child poverty grew by 35 percent from 2006 to 2012, and child abuse and neglect also continues to rise.  These increases illustrate the need for different policy and program strategies to better assist children and families in our state.  Read more about the Kids Count report, and join Michigan’s Children and other partners by using the important county-specific information about the well-being of children to help your elected officials and others make better decisions about program and policy investments in your community.   Listen to a radio interview with Michigan’s Children President & CEO Matt Gillard and Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count in Michigan Project Director, on the WKAR “Current State” program.  Both child advocates call for investing in two-generation strategies to begin to improve outcomes for parents and Michigan’s youngest learners.  
Afterschool Programs at Risk of Losing Federal Funding in ESEA Reauthorization
Over the past decade, 230,000 Michigan children benefited from federally funded expanded learning programs before and after school and during the summer. We are working hard to increase state investments in these crucial programs that are proven to close equity gaps and better engage students in their learning.  But right now, Michigan relies almost entirely on federal funding through 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which is at-risk as Congress considers reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by eliminating a range of programs including 21st CCLC.  Two Congressmen from Michigan, Reps. Mike Bishop (District 8) and Tim Walberg (District 7) play key roles in this DC discussion.  Join people from Michigan and around the country and ask your members of Congress to keep investing in proven after-school programs.  Check out the Afterschool Alliance’s comprehensive social media toolkit, and use our Congressional Who’s Who guide to find out more about Michigan’s 2 Senators and 14 members of Congress and how to best contact them.  
Kalamazoo Youth Meet with Region’s Legislators to Talk Priorities
Kalamazoo-based youth group Jeter’s Leaders met with area legislators -- Reps. Jon Hoadley and Brandt Iden, Senator Margaret O’Brien and Rep. Aric Nesbitt’s Legislative Director -- on Monday to continue the discussion that began during their campaigns at our youth-led candidate forum there last fall. The legislators, staff and young people outlined their priorities for the coming year, finding many areas in common including violence prevention, election reform and developing Michigan's future workforce.  Michele Corey, Vice President for Programs, said the latest meeting illustrates Michigan’s Children’s priority of connecting the voices of young people directly with decision makers.  “Young people’s voices have changed the trajectory of policy conversations and have resulted in additional champions for youth-driven solutions in the Legislature, several state Departments and other local policymaking bodies,” Corey said.
State Board of Canvassers to Rule on May 5 Ballot Proposal Language this Week
There’s high interest from proponents and opponents in the upcoming May 5 ballot proposal for Constitutional changes to funding roads, as well as schools and communities.  All sides are keenly aware that the precise language used will be critical in how voters understand the issue and then vote on it.  The state’s election director, Chris Thomas, has drafted a version that’s going to the State Board of Canvassers on Thursday for final action.  For background information about the proposal, check out the Sandbox Party homepage.
Advocacy tips to help you stand up and speak out for Michigan children. 
Be sure to sign-up for your legislators’ e-bulletins to see how they prioritize issues.  Bulletins also let you know when and where coffee hours are held so you can talk to them about these issues and begin building relationships.  Find the websites of your state senator and representative and sign up!  
“This proposal goes beyond simply fixing our crumbling, unsafe roads. Our children will be supported through additional funding for public education, many low-income families will benefit from the restoration of the earned income tax credit and our communities will prosper with a modest restoration in state revenue sharing.”
 -- Tom Watkins, former state superintendent, 
addressing Proposal On on the May 5 statewide ballot

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In The News
Foster kids’stories inspire moves to reform. Capital News Service (2/13/2015)

Child abuse, neglect rise sharply in Ingham County. Lansing State Journal (2/19/2015)

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