January 28, 2016

Flint Recovery Bill Includes Focus on Early On; Attention Raised by MI Children

The Legislature cleared $28 million today for recovery efforts in the city, including funds for Early On intervention services for Flint children affected by lead exposure.  Michigan’s Children led the fight for including funds for Early On services for Flint and we're pleased to see swift legislative action on this budget supplemental bill. The bill includes $2 million for Early On to provide for assessments of all Flint children as well as the hiring of additional Early On staff.  The bill also funding for nutritional support for kids and families and other resources for school nurses.  The bill, HB5220, has been sent to Governor Snyder for his signature.

This new found focus on the need for and benefits of Early On services will be helpful in our continued push for a state investment. Unlike most states, Michigan does not provide state funds, and the program remains underfunded in our state.  We need to continue to push for this state investment and welcome our partners to ensure our voices are loud and unified.

Early Media Coverage Bolsters Flint Advocacy

While news coverage of the crisis in Flint took to a national stage last month, Michigan’s Children’s call for immediate assistance for the children of Flint gained attention in several media outlets, beginning with a commentary that appeared in the Flint Journal in early January.  In “Lead poisoned kids will need more than apologies, declarations,” Matt Gillard called for “a significant investment” for Early On services.  Other calls for action appeared in two Education Week pieces and another in the New York-based Daily Beast. Read them on our media page.

Promoting a Top 10 Education in Michigan

Michigan’s Children continued its backing of educational improvements and needed investments that would put Michigan on the road to becoming a top 10 state in education, a goal of State Superintendent Brian Whiston and the State Board of Education.  Matt Gillard and Michele Corey joined a recent meeting of stakeholders weighing a variety of recommendations including those of Michigan’s Children. In “Making Michigan a Top 10 Education State by Shrinking the Learning Gap,” Michigan’s Children urges better access to learning programs, before-and-after-school and in the summer, support for early learning strategies, family literacy, and achieving academic success by addressing trauma students experience every day.  Read more here.

Offer Your Child Care Concerns, Celebrations

The Michigan Department of Education, Office of Great Start (OGS) is looking at ways of improving the delivery of child care in Michigan. OGS is examining best practices from around the country and has been speaking with parents, providers, and others with child care knowledge and experience with the goal of improving access to high-quality care for all Michigan children, but particularly for those who are most vulnerable.
It is important that OGS has access to a wide variety of perspectives in this process.  They are gathering those perspectives through this survey link:
Please complete the survey and share the link with others, particularly parents and child care providers.  Surveys must be submitted by February 10, 2016.  Michigan’s Children will keep our network posted on survey results and how to best support any recommendations that surface.

Foster Care Legislation Explored on WKAR's 'Current State'

Host Mark Bashore of WKAR’s ‘Current State’ welcomed Matt Gillard and state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge to discuss pending foster care legislation including three bills Jones has sponsored. The conversation touched on a number of issues critical to children and families in the child welfare system and Michigan’s Children’s work to raise their voices before policymakers. "There are 13,500 kids in state care through no fault of their own,” Gillard said. “There's a responsibility and obligation we have as a state to make sure we're doing all we can to ensure they have a path to success." Listen to their conversation, which begins 29 minutes into the broadcast.

Your Voices Were Heard:  2nd Snack Included in Federal Nutritional Plan

Congratulations to everyone who sent a message to Senator Stabenow this month urging support for improved nutritional benefits for children in child care under the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program. Because of a strong outpouring of support from child advocates and those who care about kids, the Senate Agriculture Committee, including Sen. Stabenow, were persuaded to boost the nutrition plan for children who spend more than eight hours a day in child care by adding a second snack to their day. The change came in the Senate Child Nutrition Re-authorization bill which funds meals and snacks essential to children’s nutrition and healthy development. The bill now awaits full Senate action before heading to the House.


Welcome Staff Intern Leann Down

Michigan native Leann Down joins the Michigan’s Children staff for a year-long internship.  With a keen interest in public policy and system-level change, Leann comes with valuable experience as a youth case manager in community-based services for families seeking mental health support. Learn more about Leann in this blog.

Advocacy tips to help you stand up and speak out for Michigan children. 
Gov. Snyder presents his fiscal year 2017 state budget on Feb. 10.  Be a budget advocate and tell your local lawmakers how the state should prioritize its spending for children, youth and families to fund the supports and services that matter most in your communities. Here's how to contact your lawmakers.
Direct Quotes
“We're looking at all the ways we can be helpful including nutrition, bottled water and Early On that gives people confidence that we're directing resources to solve the problem."
 -- Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekof
addressing the Flint water crisis

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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