Gillard Urges Lawmakers ‘Put Differences Aside’ Over Federal Relief Funds; Agree to Help Kids and Families Now

March 5, 2021 – As vaccines are being distributed and a glimmer of light begins to appear at the end of the long tunnel of COVID-19, a real opportunity exists for our elected officials to truly support struggling children and families.

Despite the terrible relationship that currently exists between Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders and Governor Gretchen Whitmer, they have a responsibility to put their differences aside and focus on what Michigan’s kids and families need. The federal government has done their part by enacting a series of COVID relief bills and are poised to pass another one in the next week. These measures have sent significant amounts of taxpayer money down to the states to be spent on programs that help people that have been most impacted by the pandemic. This should truly be a no-brainer. In the vast majority of other states, the elected leaders quickly embraced the opportunity and came to an agreement on how to get the money to the programs where it is most needed to support their most vulnerable citizens. Increased support for child care for working families and out-of-school time programs for underserved children are just a couple of the areas that should be prioritized with these funds.

Governor Whitmer, to her credit, has proposed using these federal funds to significantly increase funding for these and other critical programs. The Legislature is currently negotiating amongst itself to come up with their own plan to spend a portion of the available funds and the Republicans are intent on tying the allocation of the money to policy bills aimed at curbing the Governor’s powers in dealing with the pandemic, something she obviously opposes.

The major problem now is that urgency is crucial. Michigan’s children and families need help now. It is beyond time for our elected leaders to put their political differences aside just for a moment and get this money flowing to the critical programs that will help us emerge from the pandemic stronger.

For a printable version click here.

Matt Gillard’s Statement on Wednesday’s events in Washington D.C.

January 8, 2021 – The sad and tragic siege on our nation’s capital building by the rioting mob on Wednesday is one of the most blatant acts of domestic terror that our country has ever seen. The political rhetoric and divisiveness in our society should be alarming to everyone and is not productive for anyone other than self-serving opportunistic politicians. Nonetheless, the swift action taken by Congress to quickly come together and continue the business of certifying the 2020 Presidential Election, shows the ability of our political system to persevere and accomplish what is necessary. Now, more than ever is the time for all public servants to unite by continuing to forge ahead, abide by their respective oaths of office and work towards finding solutions to the many problems all of our communities at-home face, which includes serving the best interests of our most vulnerable children, youth and families.

Despite all of the obvious challenges the last year presented, one of the many observations and outcomes we witnessed in 2020 was our resolve to unite together to serve the needs and interests of the greater good – especially among our community of advocates. If we continue to forge ahead as a united front, I know we will be able to continue to defend ourselves and the values we hold dear against the threats we currently face, whether it be the Covid-19 pandemic, threats to our way of life and democracy, or anything else.

For a printable version click here.

Budget Action Powered by Constituent Voices

August 28, 2020 – On Monday, fiscal analysts and economists got together to conduct another Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC) in order to give state legislators and Governor Whitmer updated state revenue projections to use to craft Michigan’s fiscal year 2020/2021(FY21) state budget. While the projections have certainly improved since the last CREC in May, the negative economic impacts of the COVID pandemic are still going to create a reduction in overall state revenues heading into FY21. The pressure will now be on Governor Whitmer and the Legislature to come to an agreement on a state spending plan before the September 30 deadline.

At the same time, in Washington, D.C., negotiations have stalled on another COVID relief package in Congress. Earlier this summer it appeared very likely that Congress and President Trump would agree to another relief bill that would include, among other things, significant relief to state and local governments that have seen the need for services dramatically increase at the same time their revenues were plummeting. There is still an opportunity for Congress to act and pass a bill that would provide much-needed resources to state and local governments, as well as families and children, but the clock is ticking.

It’s our top priority at Michigan’s Children to ensure that all of our state and federal elected officials understand the need behind urgent action to better serve and protect our most vulnerable children, families, and communities. We will continue to communicate with the Governor, state legislators, and our federal elected officials to underscore the need for a budget that funds programs and resources that support children and families, but we need your help. These next few weeks will play a huge role in how Michigan children, youth, and families are not only able to navigate the continuing impacts of the COVID pandemic, but also how we are able to recover and move forward.

We encourage our elected officials to hear what their constituents are saying, and not shrink from the responsibility of this moment. Their actions now will shape outcomes for families for years to come, for good or for bad. We encourage you to stay connected with Michigan’s Children via our website, social media, and other communications channels and join us in advocating for both state and federal investments that will truly serve and protect the best interests of our state’s children and families.

For a printable version click here.

Keep Up The Congressional Pressure for Families

August 6, 2020 – Michigan’s Children President and CEO, Matt Gillard helps us understand the urgency of constituent action right now to push for necessary federal action in what is likely to be the last COVID relief bill in Congress. Take a look at Matt’s latest message here.

Advocates’ Strength in Numbers, Persistence Deliver Recent Supplemental Wins

March 11, 2020 – After months of work by Michigan’s Children and so many other amazing advocates around the state, conversations with lawmakers over and over again about reinstating some critical programs – not partisan or pork — that were vetoed and transferred out of the state budget last year, we are relieved to finally see a budget supplemental for FY20 taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable children, youth and families pass the House and Senate and now moves to the Governor for her signature. One of the supplemental budgets passed included funding for several of our priorities that you’ve been hearing us talk about, and you’ve likely heard from the amazing advocates in these networks talking about them as well

  • $250,000 for Adoption Family Support Network. You can listen to a recording from Brooke VanProoyen talking about the critical importance of this work.
  • $500,000 for Court Appointed Special Advocates program (CASA). You can hear how Nicole Calver’s struggles were made easier by her CASA volunteer, and how Patty Sabin continued to believe that policymakers would do the right thing, even though it took a long time.
  • $800,000 for Runaway and Homeless Youth Prevention and Support programs. Take a look at two stories from formerly homeless young people, as well as lots of other resources as we helped that network keep pushing for this investment.
  • $250,000 for the School Success Partnership Program, where student needs don’t get in the way of their learning and success.

Our appreciation is nearly exclusively reserved for the individual advocates and organizations whose tireless outreach work with us finally secured this and other vital funding. Together, as unified advocates, we can take pride in knowing each of the direct constituent meetings, phone calls, and visits – both in-district and in Lansing – convinced legislators to take action to correct the shortcomings in previous supplemental budget proposals.

You may remember back in December, our opinion piece via Bridge Magazine that underlined the sense of urgency needed in reaching a supplemental agreement. While we’re pleased to finally have one, they took way too long, resulting in staff layoffs and even program closures, as well as failing to meet the expectations of their own constituents. The unnecessary strain caused to these individuals, organizations and programs directly serving children, youth, and families across Michigan seems to indicate more attention being paid to partisanship and infighting than the needs of the most vulnerable amongst us.

And the work goes on: Governor Whitmer failed to include funding for the four programs we’ve highlighted above in her FY21 budget proposal that is being discussed by the Legislature right now. So, as advocates and champions for Michigan children, youth and families, we’ve got to continue our tireless outreach work to ensure that these same programs, and more, are included at the end of this budget process.

For a printable version click here.

Matt Gillard is President & CEO of Michigan’s Children.


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