February 24, 2016

Capitol Corner: State House Considers Legislative Reform for Teen Offenders

The House Criminal Justice Committee has approved a set of bills, HB 4947-4966, that would change the state’s practice of automatically referring 17-year-old offenders to the adult corrections system.  The bills, with unanimous and bipartisan support from committee members, have been sent to the full House where they await action. As members of the Raise the Age Campaign, Michigan’s Children is among a growing number of organizations and advocates that stand behind the changes. Read Matt Gilllard’s Capitol Corner to learn why youthful offenders, their families and Michigan communities are better served by the juvenile justice system.

Using the Media to Build Attention for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

The numbers of children cared for by grandparents continue to grow around the nation and in Michigan, with nearly one-third of children in the state’s welfare system being placed with grandparents and others cared for by grandparents not in the system. Of critical public policy interest are the availability of supports and services for these families and children who often don’t have access to the same supports as other foster parents or guardians, despite their common traumatic experiences.
Read about kinship care advocate Deb Frisbie of Thompsonville in Northern Michigan and the challenges grandparents face raising grandchildren in our most recent Learning from Families article. Frisbie’s family and work were recently spotlighted in a Traverse City Record-Eagle feature. Then read communications consultant Teri Banas’s blog about the valuable role advocates play in educating an ever-changing media world, and Matt’s commentary on the story of grandparents raising grandchildren posted in the Record-Eagle.

Humanizing the Flint Water Crisis

Michigan’s Children first ran into Bev Davidson when she commented on a Facebook reference to our work on ensuring resources for Flint to deal with the needs of children and families there.  As an Infant Mental Health Specialist and a volunteer in Flint, she has counseled many distraught families whose children have special needs and developmental delays, but says the impact of the Flint water crisis on families there has been uniquely distressing. Her blog on the subject has been widely circulated.
Bev’s main concern is shared by professionals, families and volunteers alike: ensuring that there are more than enough services to support parents and children harmed by lead for the long term.  The community will need more infant mental health specialists, Early On providers, those providing integrated services in schools, after school providers, and many others.  Critical is that this cadre of education, health, and mental health professionals needed to care for the children as they grow and their parents as they struggle is financed.  Join us in working in the current budget process, and for years to come, to make sure that those investments remain.

President's FY2017 Budget Details Investments in Kids & Families

Our national partners at First Focus have created a series of articles detailing spending priorities for children in President Obama’s final budget.  Presented to Congress for FY2017, the President’s plan provides a blueprint for federal investments for children in the areas of health, early childhood, child poverty, housing and homelessness, education, nutrition, welfare and economic security for families.
Follow Michigan’s Children as we work with our Congressional Delegation to maintain some of the themes of the budget for federal programs which are designed to increase opportunities for the most challenged children, youth and families. Reducing disparities in outcomes for children is critical for long-term gains in high-quality early education, expanded learning opportunities, multiple paths to high school completion and access to basic needs.
Access First Focus’s reports and a fact sheet on the President’s budget recommendations, and read CLASP’s commentary on why it’s relevant. It's keenly important in an election year, with the the presidential race upon us and contests for Congressional seats, that we put issues involving children, youth and families in the forefront.

Advocacy tips to help you stand up and speak out for Michigan children. 
Becoming media savvy is a valuable asset for those seeking positive policy changes. On issues involving children, youth and families, advocates with personal experience make effective sources of information and perspective in their communities and through the media. 
Direct Quotes
“Flint children will need helpers in every developmental stage of their life.”
 -- Infant Mental Health Specialist Bev Davidson,
addressing the Flint water crisis

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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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