November 5, 2015

Capitol Corner:  Newest Roads Package Challenges Needed Investment in Families, Kids

In the long-running roads funding saga, the state Legislature has approved a package that’s now before Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. Snyder has said he will sign it. Read Matt Gillard’s Capitol Corner to learn why he says we need to continue to push lawmakers on the issue in order to lessen future budget hits and allow revenue growth to support programs that benefit the children, youth and families who face the most challenges in our state.

Michigan’s Children Continues to Inform Foster Care Solutions

Matt Gillard made a series of recommendations to the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee on Wednesday aimed at strengthening a package of bills under consideration by lawmakers. His testimony also set the stage for other areas for action by the Committee to improve outcomes for the children, youth and families in the state’s foster care system in the future.
These recommendations were informed by insights gained from youth and families from foster care who spoke to lawmakers and policymakers at our recent solution-focused KidSpeak and FamilySpeak forums for improving the state’s child welfare system. Several Committee members referred to those forums as serving to open their eyes to the actual experiences of families in the system.
“The Michigan’s Children’s testimonies heard by my Majority Vice Chair (Jim) Runestad and Minority Vice Chair (Marcia) Hovey-Wright and myself at the FamilySpeak and KidSpeak forums helped us to better understand the barriers to great foster homes and will continue to help shape legislation in the days and weeks ahead,” said Committee Chairman Thomas Hooker. “Thanks for letting us know what truly is happening and we will continue to work to make a difference.”
Rep. Runestad has frequently attended KidSpeak programs over the years and agreed the forums have offered critical insights for lawmakers. “This is really the only way for legislators to find out what is actually going on within the system,” he said. “These events have been instrumental in crafting good legislation to protect the roughly 13,000 children in our state foster care system.”
Read Michigan’s Children’s testimony.

Read more about our recommendations for change in the foster care system.

Family Literacy Has Strong Advocates at FamilySpeak 

Parents from across Michigan testified before state lawmakers and other decision-makers at the State Capitol on Oct. 28, 2015 at a FamilySpeak dedicated to the importance of adults improving their literacy skills and being able to assist in their children’s learning.  Michigan’s Children and the Michigan Association of Community and Adult Education sponsored the forum. 
There are 42,000 Michiganders ages 18-34 who have less than a ninth-grade education, hampering their ability as parents to assist with their children’s success.  To encourage lawmakers to increase support for adult and community education programs for adults, 15 family members shared their stories of utilizing these critical programs and improving their skills in order to help their children with homework, communicate with teachers, and serve as an inspiration for their families.
Read more about the forum participants, listeners and media coverage of the event
Follow Twitter coverage at #FamilySpeakMI


Integrated School Services Needed to Counter Student Bullying

One in four Michigan schoolchildren report being the target of bullies on school property within the last 12 months, according to Adolescents’ Reporting of Bullying and Peer Victimization In School, a report by Wayne State University researchers. To support the release of the report at a news conference in Ann Arbor on Oct. 26, 2015, Michigan’s Children helped to raise the voices of young people in the conversation and was on hand to offer suggestions for addressing the trauma that children who bully bring to school and those who are victimized.
The two students speaking at the press conference, Brittney Barros, 17, and Deborah Fagan, 15, talked about the severe bullying they had faced in school, leaving them feeling isolated and helpless.  In light of this testimony and the research presented, Matt Gillard called on making integrated school services and trauma-informed practices standard in Michigan’s education system.
Read more about the press conference, the report and media coverage, including an op-ed in the Detroit News today. 

Registration Still Open for Upcoming PAM Conference

There’s still time to register for the 23rd Annual Parenting Awareness Michigan Conference scheduled on Nov. 16, 2015 at East Lansing’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on the latest parenting issues, programs and resources.  The conference will feature keynote speaker Maureen Hollocker of the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds and the Great Start Collaborative of Charlevoix, Emmet and Northern Antrim counties.  The conference is for parents and anyone who works with parents and families, including educators, coalition members, service providers and volunteers.
Register by Monday, Nov. 9, 2015.  
Advocacy tips to help you stand up and speak out for Michigan children. 
Lawmakers say the most impactful stories are those told by constituents who experience the programs and services they are making decisions about every day.  Talk to your elected officials by email, phone, letter or social media and help others do the same.
Direct Quotes
“I used to look at the pictures and make up the stories at my children’s bedtime because I didn’t know how to sound out the words. A neighbor said I should go back to school. Now I read a lot with all my children and grandchildren.”
Jeanette Edwards, Flint
 FamilySpeak (10/28/15)

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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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