A Message From Our Leadership

Matt Gillard

As the political world continued to evolve, Michigan’s Children worked to raise a whole lot of voices in 2017. We demonstrated our standing as a leader and resource among other child and family advocacy organizations, policymakers, service providers, public officials, community leaders, youth and families, and the media across Michigan. Working together, we’ve accomplished much for children, youth, and families.

Despite extraordinary challenges this past year to simply hold the line in many cases for programs and policies that help the most vulnerable and especially where equity is of the utmost concern, we focused on our congressional delegation to maintain support for home visiting programs, and continued to highlight Michigan’s reliance on federal funds in national conversations about health care, child welfare and other critical programs.

In 2017, improving the child care system continued to be a top priority. Our child care system has significant room to improve, but our success in garnering additional state investment will finally allow us to maximize our available federal funds and build the foundation for more positive policy changes and investments in 2018.

Michigan’s Children continued to lead the charge for state investment into Early On, Michigan’s IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act) Part C program targeting support for families with infants and toddlers with identified delays and disabilities. We continued work with partners to secure state funding for Early On in Flint, and now have more advocates than ever recommending the expansion of Early On funding statewide in 2018. These efforts were recognized by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley’s Special Education Reform Task Force, whose first recommendation was a state investment into Early On in their published report.

Our work also brought important movement on policies that will protect children of all ages in our child welfare system and support the adults caring for them, making great strides in foster care reform by cultivating legislative champions for the Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative and a bi-partisan coalition of legislators to advance the Quality Assurance of Foster Care bill package again through the legislature. This issue has dominated many of our KidSpeak and FamilySpeak programs where decision-makers have learned first-hand where current policies have worked well and where better policies could be championed to help the 13,500 Michigan children in foster care.

Michigan’s Children continued to build advocacy strategies guided by the most current research on toxic stress and trauma’s impact on brain development and joined the Michigan ACE Initiative to further build public support for policies that prevent and build resilience to trauma. As co-chair of the steering committee for the Michigan ACEs Initiative, we are bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders to advocate on behalf of children, youth, and families and are uniquely positioned to identify policy changes and public investments that will prevent and help mitigate the effects of adverse childhood experiences.

We also maintained Michigan’s significant commitments to its $130 million investment in the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) and to its $25 million early literacy investment, which we won in collaboration with other early childhood and education advocates, That is a testament to our continued work to ensure policymakers understand the value and benefits of GSRP and early literacy, and to our tandem efforts with our many partners to keep efforts moving forward.

Through it all, we raised the voices of children, youth, families, and caregivers directly with policymakers and other community leaders through our signature KidSpeak, FamilySpeak and CommunitySpeak events around the state. Our priorities continue to be grounded in this lived experience, and we have seen the direct results of these conversations on program and investment decisions.

As we head into 2018, we know the next year will be as challenging as the last. That’s why it’s more important than ever to maintain a steady, independent voice like Michigan’s Children’s to look out for children and families and to fight for investments that lead to better public policies for all.

With your help, we will be able to do just that.

 

Regards,
Matt Gillard, President & CEO,
Michigan’s Children

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