Speaking for Kids Podcast

Speaking for Kids, the Podcast from Michigan’s Children

Each month Michigan’s Children records a new podcast featuring a crucial conversation with people impacted by or making public policy decisions affecting Michigan’s children, youth, and families. Join host Matt Gillard, Michigan’s Children’s president & CEO, as we explore current issues discussed in Lansing and Washington, D.C.

Besides here, access episodes of Speaking for Kids, the Podcast on these hosting sites – Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and YouTube. We also welcome your suggestions for future topics and speakers. Contact Program Director, Teri Banas at teri@michiganschildren.org, or Outreach Associate, Stephen Wallace at stephen@michiganschildren.org.  Scroll down to find archived past episodes.

What’s Next for Paid Family Medical Leave in Michigan?
Episode 22
November 7, 2023

Michigan’s Children President & CEO Matt Gillard welcomes state Rep. Jasper Martus to the Speaking for Kids podcast to discuss efforts to advance making paid family medical leave mandatory in Michigan. The Genesee County Democrat is a point person in the House on the issue and has introduced a measure calling for an actuarial cost study to keep the issue moving forward into the new Legislative year. Lawmakers are expected to finish the current session next week without action on the promising bill hailed by family advocates including Michigan’s Children and favored by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.


What’s Next for Paid Family Medical Leave in Michigan? (video-recording)

What’s Next for Paid Family Medical Leave in Michigan? (audio-recording)


Kinship Care in Michigan: The Case for More Support
Episode 21
September 26, 2023

As advocates from the Michigan Kinship Care Coalition (MKCC) gathering for a Legislative Day in Lansing to address state lawmakers, host Matt Gillard talks to two guests about the changes needed to assist more kinship parents in raising children outside the formal foster care system. Joining him this month are Stephanie Armendariz, senior policy analyst, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, and author of the new research brief, Diverting Children from Foster to Kinship Care: The Issue and the Evidence; and, Deborah Frisbie, co-chair of MKCC’s Policy & Advocacy Committee. The advocacy group Generations United estimates that for every one child being raised by kin who are registered as formal foster parents with government supports and services, there are 18 kids being raised by relatives under informal arrangements and absent necessary services.

Kinship Care in Michigan: The Case for More Support (recording)
Kinship Care in Michigan: The Case for More Support (YouTube)
Diverting Children from Foster to Kinship Care: The Issue and the Evidence (June 2023) Stephanie Armendariz, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago (pdf)

Big Wins in Michigan’s FY24 Budget for Afterschool, Adult Ed, Homeless Youth
Episode 20
July 17, 2023

Speaking for Kids podcast host Matt Gillard from Michigan’s Children talks with three top state advocates about the sizeable funding wins in the new FY24 state budget for afterschool programming, services for homeless and runaway youths, and adult education and literacy help. Listen in as Matt welcomes Patrick Brown, Executive Director of the Michigan Adult, Community and Alternative Education Association; Ben Moe, President, Michigan Network for Youth and Families; and Erin Skene-Pratt, Executive Director, Michigan Afterschool Partnership. Hear what these unprecedented and historic funding increases mean for real service improvements and outcomes for youth and families, what made the difference in budget advocacy this year, and lessons advocates can take away from these important new successes.

Watch this episode on YouTube or stream it on Apple Podcast and other services.


Examining the Adopted FY24 Michigan State Budge: Unprecedented Improvements and Missed Opportunities for Children, Youth and Families

As FY24 State Budget Talks Wind Down, Insiders Share What Advocates Should Know

Episode 19
May 23, 2023

Speaking for Kids podcast host Matt Gillard talks inside politics around the FY24 State Budget with two veteran Lansing lobbyists. As state budget negotiations begin winding down to a conclusion next month, Matt welcomes two Capitol insiders experienced in fight for children’s issues to discuss what the new fiscal year’s budget holds for kids and families. What do the latest state revenue estimates mean for programs and services we care about most? And how can advocates follow through on these issues. Listen in as Matt welcomes Andrea Cascarilla from the Government Policy and Practice Group at Dykema, a leading law firm, and Matt Kurta, a long-standing partner with Karoub and Associates.

Find it on YouTube, and streaming sites.

Empowered Youth Speaking Out about Gun Violence

Episode 18
March 24, 2023

Speaking for Kids host Matt Gillard speaks with state Sen. Rosemary Bayer about gun reforn bills in the Michigan Legislature that she and other Democrats have sponsored as the state deals with the aftermath of the mass shooting on the campus of Michigan State University in February. Joining them is MSU Senior Dylan Gebhard, an activist with the Sit Down MSU and Students Demand Action movements. In this podcast, Gebhard discusses how the issue is fundamental for today’s students, who have grown up participating in school shooting drills, and refuse to accept school gun violence as status quo. The entire campus is mobilized around the issue, regardless of race, gender or class, he said. Sen. Bayer, whose district includes Oxford which experienced a mass shooting in late 2021, called gun reform the number one factor for legislators, and urged constituents to stay involved. More and more legislative opponents are finding the issue difficult to ignore because of ongoing student pressure, and the frequent presence of students on the Capitol steps, Bayer added.

Watch this episode on YouTube or stream it on Apple Podcast and other services

How Gov. Whitmer’s Universal PreK Plan Impacts Early Childhood

Episode 17
Feb. 28, 2023

Michigan’s Children’s Speaking for Kids Host Matt Gillard explores Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “universal PreK plan” to expand access and eligibility to the state’s Great Start Readiness Program to all interested families of 4 year olds. Presented in the Governor’s recent State of the State address, it’s a bold plan that has raised interest and some concern among early childhood providers and advocates. Listen in as Matt welcomes Dawne Bell, CEO of Michigan’s Early Childhood Investment Corporation, one of the state’s leading voices on early care and education, and Jeffrey Capizzano, founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Policy Equity Group. Capizzano is working with Michigan’s early childhood community to evaluate how to implement the proposal in Michigan.

Click here to access an audio version of the episode, or here to access the YouTube recording.

Gun Reform is a Children’s Issue

Episode 16
Jan. 30, 2023

Firearm injuries and deaths in the United States have increased in recent years and adversely affect many children and adolescents. Among children 0-19, gun-related violence became the leading cause of child mortality in the United States – exceeding car accidents – just two years ago in 2020. Host Matt Gillard welcomes gun reform activists Imani McKissic and Christopher Smith to the podcast to discuss the Governor’s recent call for legislative action addressing gun violence during her State of the State address. McKissic, 19, now a college sophomore, lost her brother Michael McKissic II in an unsolved drive-by shooting in Lansing when she was 12. In his memory, her family started the to Mikey23 Foundation help mid-Michigan youth learn a skilled trade. Michigan State University professor Smith is the executive director of the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence working to prevent gun violence through community education and beneficial gun policies.


Child and Teen Firearm Mortality in the U.S. and Peer Countries / The Kaiser Family Foundation

The Impact of Gun Violence on Children and Adolescents / The Kaiser Family Foundation

Click here to access an audio version of the episode, or find it by subscribing to Speaking for Kids at no cost on a favorite streaming site.

Click on the Imagies to access each Speaking for Kids Podcast


Speaking for Kids Podcast Series 2022/2021

November 18, 2022

August 29, 2022

July 27, 2022

May 26, 2022

April 11, 2022

March 13, 2022

April 11, 2022

December 6, 2021

December 3, 2021

September 28, 2021

August 30, 2021

July 23, 2021

June 30, 2021

May 12, 2021

April 14, 2021