Category Archives: Childcare

Rep. Hoadley, Sen. O’Brien honored as 2018 Care Champions

State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) and State Sen. Margaret O’Brien (R-Kalamazoo) were announced as Care Champion awardees by Caring Across Generations, a national care giving advocacy campaign.

Rep. Hoadley was recognized for being the chief sponsor of the Long-Term Care Study Bill (HB 4674) which would do a rigorous needs assessment of long-term care in Michigan, so that we have the research necessary to make informed decisions around long-term care in a state whose population is aging rapidly. The bill has bipartisan support and over forty co-sponsors, including Rep. Hoadley, who gave testimony on it during a hearing in the Health Policy Committee in the fall of 2017.

Senator O’Brien was recognized due to her support for in-home caregivers and families providing care, such as care for children, elderly parents or disabled family members. In particular, her bill, SB 749, passed in the Senate in 2018 to allow, beginning in tax year 2018, a Michigan income tax credit for dependent care that mirrors the one offered at the federal level.

“More and more families are struggling with how to care for our loved ones while making ends meet, but our policies are lagging far behind the reality of what Americans need,” said Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations. “Luckily, we have care champions like Rep. Hoadley and Senator O’Brien, who are showing us what is possible when principled leadership is coupled with bold policy solutions. We need more elected officials like Rep. Hoadley and  Senator O’Brien to call for making our care infrastructure strong enough for the 21st century.”

“For years, Rep. Hoadley and Senator O-Brien have been legislators we can count on to support the Caring Majority. We’re pleased to be able to honor Rep. Hoadley and Senator O’Brien for their work, and look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that all of us who need care and all of us who provide that care get the support we need,” said Ryan Bates, Executive Director of Michigan United, a partner of Caring Across Generations in Michigan.

“I am excited and honored to accept this award on behalf of all of the folks who are doing work to protect the Caring Majority,” says Rep. Hoadley. “The Long-Term Care Study Bill is both the right thing to do for our citizens and taxpayers of Michigan. I hope we can continue to build momentum to sign this bill into law.”

The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future

Candidates challenged with issues by the people they affect

Thousands of people from across Michigan packed the sanctuary of Detroit’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Saturday to hear from four of the candidates vying to lead the state in 2018. Democrats Bill Cobbs, Abdul El-Sayed, Gretchen Whitmer were joined by Republican Patrick Colbeck on stage to explain their positions on criminal justice reform, environmental justice, education, care, immigration and workers rights at the event co-sponsored by more than 70 community organizations.

The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future was moderated by Rev. Dee Dee Coleman, President of the Baptist Pastors Council of Detroit and Vicinity, and Detroit Free Press journalist Niraj Warikoo. But as important as the answers they gave were the people who posed the questions.

WENDY KYLES of Detroit asked “What will you do as Governor to reduce air pollution in overburdened communities, like mine, and throughout our state?” Kyles, who lives in the 48217 zip code, suffers from the worst air quality in the state due to the nearby Marathon oil refinery. Her mother died from emphysema even though never smoked a cigarette in her life.

Arthur Howard is a returning citizen who is working hard to be a productive member of the community. He pointed out that Michigan has seen a reduction in spending on post-release services in the past few years while states like California and Colorado are instead are investing in programs like prison diversion and community enrichment to help the formerly incarcerated get on the right path. “These programs pay for themselves because keeping someone out of prison saves a lot of money.” He wanted to know which candidates would consider a similar model in Michigan.

Jason Hackney is a teacher at one of Michigan’s 300 charter schools, 75% of which are “for-profit”. Michigan has also dropped to the bottom ten of states for education in the nation. An estimated $1 billion of Michigan tax money goes into these charters with no transparency, and for results that are no better than public schools. “A people’s governor should not treat Michigan students as commodities that can make the most profit for a management company and the authorizer.” Hackney said. He wanted to know How each of the candidates would address the problem of fully funding our schools, holding authorizers and management companies accountable, and where do you stand on the privatization of our education system?

Officials, leaders, SNAP recipients outraged at cuts to program

Pending tax reform would deny children affordable, nutritional diet

As Congress rushes to pass a massive tax bill that gives billions to the large corporations and the wealthy, adding more than $1.4 trillion to the federal debt over 10 years in the process, local leaders and parents stood up to sound the alarm on how the tax bill will affect SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)  with massive cuts in funding.

In the Panel Discussion and Open Mic, State Representative Stephanie Chang (6-Detroit) encouraged SNAP recipients to speak about how the loss of SNAP will affect their lives.

Describing her experience while working as a student intern toward her degree as a Dietitian/Nutritionist, Shayna Danto explained, “As a student intern I was working full time but receiving no income, SNAP allowed me to eat. While using my SNAP benefits I  also discovered that the Program provided provisions to make greater use of SNAP while supporting the Detroit farming community. If a SNAP recipient buys food from a local grower the benefits are doubled. This is a double win. The local farming community benefits, and SNAP recipients eat healthy nutritious food.”

Mother of four and cancer survivor, Latasha Greer described her feelings. “ With Congress rushing to pass this cruel and inhumane bill, the reality of the SNAP Program being deeply cut petrifies me. In 2015, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. The treatments to cure my cancer left me so weak and sick that working was completely impossible. Our family of six was left to rely on only one paycheck. This is an impossible situation. We desperately need the SNAP Program to feed our family.”

Close to 70 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children, more than one-quarter are in households with seniors or people with disabilities. If a parent loses her job or has a job that pays low wages, SNAP can help her feed her children until she is able to improve her circumstances. 93 percent of federal SNAP spending is for food.

Millions of Americans work in jobs with low wages, unpredictable schedules and no benefits such as paid sick leave, all of which contribute to high turnover and spells of unemployment.  SNAP provides monthly benefits that help fill the gaps for workers with low and inconsistent pay and can help workers weather periods without a job.  Workers who participate in SNAP most commonly work in service occupations, such as cooks or home health aides, or sales occupations, such as cashiers, which are often jobs with low pay and income volatility.

SNAP is heavily focused on the poor. 92 percent of SNAP benefits go to households with incomes at or below the poverty line, and 57 percent go to households at or below half of the poverty line (about $10,210 for a family of three in 2017).

Pontiac Councilman Kermit Williams also expressed outrage at the proposed restrictions to the program that provides important nutritional support for low-wage working families, low-income seniors, and people with disabilities living on fixed incomes.

Parents of premature & special needs children speak out against proposed healthcare bill

Repeal of ACA threatens those with pre-existing conditions, reliant on medicaid

Representative Debbie Dingell met with several children born prematurely or with special needs and their parents for a roundtable discussion of how proposed healthcare reform would affect them. Children with special needs like these will find themselves squarely in the crosshairs if the cuts to medicaid and removal of protections under the Affordable Care Act are signed into law.

“As a parent advocate and peer counselor for our hospital’s NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), I see moms and babies every day that rely on the financial and program resources available through our health care plans.” said Vickie Korsak of  the Michigan March of Dimes  “Lack of access and coverage is nothing less of devastating to the the lives and futures of our sickest and most fragile.  The debate over lifetime limits, the definition of pre-existing conditions and the funding of Medicaid strikes terror in every parent who has had a baby born premature, ill or with a genetic condition.”

The BatesRyan Bates, the director of Michigan United and the father of a child born 14 weeks early, said, “Congress is debating taking health care away from vulnerable children so that the most fortunate among us can have a tax cut. That’s just wrong. This is generous country where we take care of each other.”

The group was joined by David Sanchez and his son Benicio, who gets autism treatment through a Medicaid funded program, and a representative of the Michigan Nurses Association.

Michigan United launches Universal Family Care at Downriver women’s rights event

Michigan Women join thousands across the country to push new economic agenda for all women

Michigan United began to roll out it’s Universal Family Care campaign at the Riverview Public Library Monday night.  US Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI12) and State Representatives Darrin Camilleri, (D-23 Brownstown) and Cara Clemente (D-14 Lincoln Park) came out to show their support for the plan to help families care for their children, seniors, the disabled, and caregivers.

Terri Voepel-Lewis“A few years ago, mom was diagnosed with cancer and had to move in with me. So that I could keep working, we had to use mom’s savings to pay for in home care.” said Terri Voepel-Lewis, a downriver resident who provided end of life care for her mother. ”That quickly ran low, as the cost of in home care for 8 hrs a day cost thousands over her short illness. Mom died before we had to consider other sources of care. No one should have to worry about how to care for their parents at the end of life”.

Universal Family Care would be very helpful families like the Lewis’. The campaign seeks to provide Universal Home Care for Seniors and People with Disabilities, and would have allowed Terri’s mom to receive the resources from the state to afford the care her mom needed during her illness.

Additional components of Universal Family Care include: Universal Childcare, Support for stay-at-home Parents, Workforce Standards, (those include reimbursement rates to workers set high enough to provide a living wage), and Paid Family Leave. The program covers all types of care, to support families and people of all abilities to work and live well at every stage of life.

Universal Family Care is about being there for loved ones. Care needs to be centered on families that are allowed the ability to make good care choices. Without a program that helps provide clear information about affordable choices, Michigan families cannot get the care they need and want.

The Riverview event was part of the “We Won’t Wait’s” week of action that has spawned similar events across the country. Another event will be held Friday, July 7th at the Oloman Cafe at 10215 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck from 6 PM – 8 PM. Lending their voices to speak up for Michigan families and to join Michigan United as they Launch Universal Family Care in Hamtramck will be the Director of Community Engagement for Council Member At-Large for Janeé Ayers, Justin Johnson and State Representative Stephanie Chang (D-6  Detroit).

Michigan United announces launch of Universal Family Care campaign at Capitol Day

Rep. Jon Hoadley presents Long Term Care Study bill to lay groundwork to support families

With new chapters springing up around the state, Michigan United and the Michigan People’s Campaign welcomed record numbers at their annual Capitol Day Event Tuesday in Lansing. The grassroots organizations scheduled dozens of meetings with state representatives and senators to discuss immigration, the environment and family care.

At a rally held at Central United Methodist Church, they announced plans to work with Caring Across Generations and other coalition partners, holding listening sessions over the summer to build out policy details this fall that will ensure the care of all Michigan family members and to help those who care for them. Benchmarks include:

  • Universal childcare up to age 4
  • Long term in home care for seniors
  • Protections for home care workers
  • A stipend for stay at home family caregivers
  • Paid family leave for workers who need time off to care for loved ones.

Many families are in the “sandwich generation:” providing care for young children at the same time they’re providing care for their parents. Sandwich generation families deal with two unaffordable systems, where the people who require care have significant and rapidly changing needs.

Michelle George, an advanced practice registered nurse is one such person. She has a 97 year old aunt with two broken hips. Although she has good health insurance, she won’t be eligible for a new wheelchair to help her get to much needed appointments. “Many families are stretched thin, have to cut back on work, or quit a job to care for aging family members.” said George. “We need better solutions, and the time is now for us to research and fight for them.

Rep. Jon Hoadley also announced that he would introduce his Long Term Care Study bill later that afternoon as the first step in this campaign.

Parents push Kalamazoo school board to take new approach to bullying, discipline

Groups call for end of segregation and medication

Social Economic and Educational Change (SEE Change), a parent advocate group affiliated with Michigan United and Justice Against Bullying at School (JABS) attended Thursday’s Kalamazoo public school board meeting to express concerns about students bullying their children and staff using excessive force to physically restrain them, resulting in cuts, bruises, muscle strains and in one case, a concussion.  

Parents were also concern about the use of alternative schools to segregate minority students and the excessive medication of students with disabilities. Earl Moore described how he saw his son’s behavior change after being bullied. Rather than dealing with the bullying, the school responded to the behavior change with physical restraint. Ultimately, his son was suspended from school for more 30 days.  “The school refused to allow my son to come back to school unless he took medication” Moore said. Kalamazoo keeps records of its students in a School Wide Information System (SWIS) Moore said the SWIS report on his son describes his behavior in criminal terms, a characterization that will follow him wherever he goes.

Gwendolyn Hooker told the school board how her granddaughter, Justyce suffered  multiple brutal attacks. She said the district showed a lack of concern in addressing the issue of bullying and how it affected students like Justyce.

Tammie Woods  spoke of her son’s battles with depression and anxiety after multiple restraints resulted in a concussion, cuts, and his arm being twisted. Woods described the Specific Learning Disabilities reading program (SLD Read) at Western Michigan University where she sought help for her son. Woods feels Kalamazoo school should provide since her child does not qualify for SLD Read services.

George White, lead advocate with SEE Change said bullying and the effects of bullying can lead to depression, withdrawal, low self esteem, poor grades, poor peer relationships, increases the dropout ratio and in rare cases can lead to death. White also commented on the need for the Restorative Justice models gaining traction all around the country in addressing student bullying. White also recommended Trauma Informed Care practices in classrooms to improve student, parent, teacher relationships.  

White said SEE Change will return to each school board meeting with more parents until they get the results that the parents seek. SEE Change plans further conversations in the community about policy reform needed to reduce bullying, expulsions, suspensions, restraint and medication dependence. The goal is to return all children to mainstream classrooms.

School board member, Lauren Freedman expressed an interest in working with SEE Change to resolve some of the issues. Dr. Rice also indicated a willingness to meet with the group.  

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Parents take over Michigan House Speaker’s office to demand childcare

State just days away from losing $20 million in federal matching funds

Parents and their children stood their ground this afternoon as they demanded that Michigan’s Speaker of the House, Kevin Cotter put childcare funding on the agenda before it’s too late. Michigan stands to lose out on $20.5 million in federal matching funds if they fail to come up with qualifying plan of their own. The deadline is September 30th and Speaker Cotter has not yet responded to calls to address the issue in the days remaining in this session.

Parents took over Speaker Cotter’s office for a colorful demonstration featuring their kids’ stuffed animals and readings from childrens books.

Kiava Stewart, mother of 2 from Detroit asks to meet with Speaker Cotter to discuss the need for childcare assistance in Michigan
Kiava Stewart, mother of 2 from Detroit asks to meet with Speaker Cotter to discuss the need for childcare assistance in Michigan

“Our families are really suffering from the high cost of child care. Speaker Cotter is about to let $20 million that could help us slip through his fingers.”  said Kiava Stewart, a mother of two from Detroit “Our kids should be his top priority.”

The parents were organized by Michigan United, a progressive, statewide group that recently took part in a national conference on childcare held in Lansing. They pointed to a report issued by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) that shows fewer and fewer children in Michigan are getting child care assistance through federal Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG). Today, only one in five children eligible for child care assistance in Michigan gets any help. Latino, Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native children are even less likely to receive child care assistance.

“It’s inconceivable how our lawmakers continue to let this money slip through their fingers year after year when there are so many families who need this help right now.” said Amber York, who is also a mother of two from Detroit.  “Time is short. They need to step up right now and show their commitment to improving outcomes our kids.”

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