Dealing with the implication of the federal fiscal cliff, overhauling Michigan’s educational system, implementing health care reform, all with a new legislative session that includes new members, new committee chairs, new caucus dynamics. Whew! How will we know how changes are impacting the large and growing equity gaps we see in this state? How will we know how the changes are impacting the children and families most vulnerable to public policy shifts?
Even in the best of times, this is a challenge for those of us trying to give voice to children, youth and families around the state. Unfortunately, this is not the best of times. Michigan’s Children is about to celebrate its 20th year, and in some ways, we are in our own adolescent phase. We are glad that like the public policies that give young people and families second chances that we’ve advocated strongly for throughout our existence, we have also been given a chance to reflect and review.
We need some help with that reflection and review, so we are also glad that some of the best advocacy minds in the state are going to help us. Over the next five months or so, our Transition Task Force will be convening. This Task Force will be evaluating our role, credibility, capacity and viability. This evaluation will be bolstered by data about the impact we have (and have not) made over the last 20 years, and the effectiveness of our current advocacy strategies. The Task Force will also have access to information about the most effective advocacy organizations in our state and around the country as it evaluates our role as the independent voice for children in Michigan.
The Task Force will be making recommendations about the best way to strengthen advocacy work for children, youth and families in Michigan and the role that Michigan’s Children and others can play in that work going forward. I’m looking forward to being part of this important process in Michigan, and am excited about the future of advocacy in our state. We all know that all of the policy challenges we will face in 2013 and beyond need the strongest advocates to face them.