September 10, 2014 – I try to play the social media game but I honestly feel like I can’t keep up. I’m just beginning to dabble in the use of #hashtags and still struggle to get my message across in 140 characters or less. What can I say? I’m a policy person… trying to get something down to one-page is hard enough! But, I do recognize that social media can be an effective strategy to move public policy priorities. And to that end, I urge you to fight any possible social media hesitations – or embrace your love for social media – and participate in today’s #InvestinKids Strong Start Coalition Twitter Campaign from 2-3pm or anytime today if you’re unavailable during that hour. The purpose of the Twitter storm is to let members of Congress – and I would add our state legislators and candidates for public office – know that investing in young children is a top priority.
The Strong Start Coalition is focusing on expanding access to early childhood opportunities – an issue that Michigan’s Children is prioritizing this election season via the Sandbox Party. With our state’s significant focus on preschool over the past two years, it’s now time to focus on our littlest Michigan residents. We must expand funding for programs that serve young children prenatally through age three through a variety of evidence-based services including home visiting, early intervention for developmental delays, and high quality child care. These are all parts of Michigan’s early childhood system – particularly Early On Early intervention – that have received significantly less attention than preschool.
Michigan’s Children is glad that the importance of home visiting has expanded over the past several years in Michigan, with some increases in state and federal funding for evidence-based home visiting services and through the Governor’s Partners for Success opportunity. And, we’re glad that the need to increase access to high quality child care is being worked on by the Administration through Michigan’s Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant. But I would argue that both of these parts of the early childhood system still have quite a ways to go to ensure access to all families who are eligible for these services. At the same time, Early On continues to be left behind. An Auditor General’s report that came out last year highlighted some significant challenges with the Early On system – many which are the result of historic underfunding of the Early On system for decades. In a nutshell, opportunities for our youngest Michigan residents continue to fall far behind.
I hope you will join many other early childhood advocates across the nation today by participating in the #InvestinKids Twitter action. In addition to targeting our members of Congress, please consider tailoring your message to candidates running for public office.
To learn more about Michigan’s Children’s election efforts, visit www.michigansandboxparty.org.