Leading Voices for Policy Improvements

 

Michigan’s Children 2018 Policy Priorities

2018 will be a critical year for Michigan’s future, with the Governor’s office, Legislature, a U.S. Senate seat, and a few Congressional districts up for grabs. Advocates will have opportunities to influence not only policy and budget decisions today but also the overall priorities of our state government for the next couple years. Here’s a preview of our 2018 priorities, driven by research, best practice, and the stories and recommendations of children, youth, families, and the programs that serve them well.

See the PDF version of our 2018 priorities here


 

A State Budget That Invests in Kids

As the legislature decides Michigan’s spending priorities for FY2018-19, we’ll be calling for investment across the lifespan of a child, ensuring healthy transitions from early childhood into school, strong pathways from school into adulthood for children and youth most in need, and holistic supports for learners of all ages.

Early On Developmental Screening and Support Services
The quality and range of available Early On services varies by county. A state investment in Early On would provide families with the tools they need to play positive roles in their child’s development

Child Care
Michigan’s eligibility rates for child care subsidies remain one of the lowest in the country

Trauma Prevention
Local initiatives and direct services like those funded through the Children’s Trust Fund have been proven to strengthen families and  build resilience to trauma and adverse childhood experiences

Student and Family Learning Supports
Students deserve counseling, physical and mental health, and other services that nurture their learning in partnership with families and caregivers

Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative & Fostering Futures
Children and youth in the foster care system require special investment to address their trauma, support their caregivers, bolster their learning, and support their adult success

 


 

A Model for Tax Reform for Kids and Families

Federal tax reform will likely result in limited benefits to families and extraordinary risk to funding for critical programs. Decisions to reduce or return revenues often result in cuts to essential programs and services, essentially a loss for families. But Michigan has its own tax code too. The 2018 elections are an opportunity to shift the conversation about what we can do with our scarce resources in future years – tax credits are an expenditure, and like any other spending item they need to be targeted to where the greatest need is. We can target tax expenditures to children, youth, and families in need:

Enact a fully refundable Michigan Child Tax Credit (CTC)
While federal tax reform included a modest expansion of the CTC, Michigan can become the third state in the US to provide its own child tax credit whose benefits extend to the most underserved families

Lower the age of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
The EITC is one of America’s and Michigan’s most effective anti-poverty policies, but its minimum age of 25 for single earners means that youth transitioning from foster care, who are living independently and working full-time, miss out

A Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for foster care
The federal WOTC is an incentive to hire certain vulnerable groups like veterans, people with disabilities, and ex-felons. Michigan can extend this credit to hire youth currently or formerly in the foster care system, who tend to experience high unemployment rates

Child care tax credits
Michigan’s child care system remains significantly underfunded, but we can support families, providers, and small businesses with a series of child care tax credits that would drastically improve both access and quality

 


 

Crafting Thoughtful Policy

We’re also looking at policy changes large and small to make sure that state investments in child welfare and child care are as effective as possible:

Pass the “Children’s Assurance of Foster Care Quality” Act
For years, youth and families have demanded a #FosterQuality package to ensure that kids have a true voice in the system. Let’s get it through the Senate and to the Governor’s desk.

Reform the Fostering Futures Scholarship
Streamlining the state scholarship so foster youth can utilize it to their full advantage and maximize the state’s investment.

Rethink caseload consensus budget adjustments
The way Michigan spends its Child Care and Development block grant, which provides federal support for state child care programs, does not maximize the value of the grant each year. We should allow the Office of Great Start more flexibility to invest in access and quality

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