Challenge Lawmakers to Do More With What They Have

(October 20, 2023) This year, in a year of historic funding surplus, direct benefits for underserved children, youth, and families, received some critical increases, but only after waiting for over one billions dollars in corporate giveaways to be sent out the door first.

Now, across the state, our team is seeing more child advocates than ever before who are setting their sights on moving further up in line, on the belief that children and families’ needs should set the agenda around which other work revolves.

And at Michigan’s Children, we’re motivated by this trend because it’s the only way we’ll see lasting improvements in the conditions faced by youth and families who today shoulder significant burdens.

We’ve seen plenty of examples out in the field over the last couple weeks.

For child care advocates, this year’s policy returns have been very unsatisfying for anyone who doesn’t operate a GSRP classroom. Budget neglect has put our child care system on the brink – once again – and now providers are calling out decision makers in statewide media.

Other advocates who fight for afterschool, adult education, and unhoused youth, who saw significant wins this year but who know that more is possible, have all gathered to brainstorm how their programs can become even stronger advocates for what they know they need.

We are even seeing new members sign on to a statewide campaign to fight for workers who are not afforded paid family and medical leave.

In each of these networks, I see the wisdom of Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”.

Child care providers are using the moment to make it hard for decision makers to move on from a mistake they made.

Youth and education advocates are taking their positive momentum and accelerating their efforts to enact even more change.

Paid leave organizers are leaping through a window of opportunity to make sure that Michigan leads the country in having a family-friendly paid leave system.

Each of these groups are creating a higher expectation for what meaningful investment & systemic change looks like. It’s what the kids and families they serve deserve.

At an advocacy training this week, I met a young social worker who was very motivated to make change beyond her individual service, but who had never advocated before, and wanted to know where to start.

I look to all these advocates for the answer to that question. They are starting where they are at, and doing what they can, wherever they are in their journey, to challenge lawmakers to do more for families with the opportunity they have available to them.

It’s a mindset we all can follow.

Bobby Dorigo Jones is the Vice President for Michigan’s Children.
You can find him at