April 16, 2021
Throughout the pandemic, we have heard a lot about the impact COVID-19 has had on our economy. But in this issue, I’d like to draw attention to the importance of what we call the “caring economy,” and the extreme strain and pressure the pandemic has placed on the already undervalued field of caregivers, ranging from early education teachers to caregivers of the disabled and our seniors.
Caring for one another is a moral imperative for the dignity of people and will never be something the market will reward, so government must make clear that caregivers have real, economic, and societal value. These professionals deserve more than our respect and admiration; they deserve to make a living wage and to have their profession given the legitimacy and respect it deserves.
In short, modern society could not exist without caregivers. This is dignified, important work, and should be valued as such. By making visible the enormous economic and social value of caring for people — starting in early childhood — we can work to end cycles of poverty, empower women and people of color, care for children, and promote prosperity, economic justice, and sustainability.
In This Issue
The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration and opportunity to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families, and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.
Today, we know more than ever before about the importance of a child’s earliest years in shaping their learning and development. Yet, never before have the needs of young children and their families been more pressing. The Week of the Young Child is a time to recognize that children’s opportunities are our responsibilities, and to recommit ourselves to ensuring each and every child experiences the type of early environment — at home, at child care, at school, and in the community — that will promote their early learning.
On this, the 50th Anniversary of the Week of the Young Child, it’s important we highlight the impact early education has on our families here in Michigan, and also advocate for better compensation for our early childhood teachers. They have faced enormous obstacles this year, and they have made tremendous efforts to bring our young children through this pandemic as safely and as unaffected as possible.
Last year, I was honored to help in celebrating the Week of the Young Child along with First Steps Kent, KConnect and The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Especially during these trying times, this video provided much-needed warmth to our day.
Did you know that the week of April 11 is Black Maternal Health week? The difficulties Black women face accessing maternal health care, as well as the quality of that care, lead directly to poor maternal health outcomes and persistent racial disparities.
Prioritizing pregnancy-related public health spending and making sure those ideas are structured in a human rights framework has resulted in improved maternal health outcomes. That’s why I reintroduced Senate Bill 252, “Healthy Moms Healthy Babies,” which permanently extends pregnancy-related Medicaid from the current 60 days of coverage to a year post-partum. Among mothers covered by this Medicaid, 75% of the deaths related to pregnancy complications occurred at the end of the current standard of Medicaid coverage, or after coverage expired.
I will never stop advocating for policies that effectively address Black maternal health inequities, and I was proud to cosponsor the resolution to recognize April 11-17 as Black Maternal Health Week in the state of Michigan.
Learn more from Black Mamas Matter Alliance.
There’s a new opportunity for West Michigan educators! A new fellowship has been created that will support you to harness your passion for racial justice and grow as a leader for equity. Any Grand Rapids-area educators who are ready to grow as leaders for equity are encouraged to apply to be an Equity Fellow with Leading Educators. The deadline for applications is May 3.
Leading Educators is an organization that partners with school systems to build and sustain the conditions, teaching, and leadership that ensure the students furthest from opportunity succeed in school and in life. They feel the best opportunity to address equity head-on is by developing teachers to make strong instructional choices. We must also grow the opportunities for leadership and advancement available to educators of color.
Learn more on their website.
On Monday, April 12, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her funding priorities as the state readies for more than $18 billion in federal funding available through the American Rescue Plan Act. Of that federal funding, state government is expected to receive $5.7 billion, local governments will see $4.4 billion, and K-12 schools are set to see $3.9 billion.
Several key priority areas include job creation, infrastructure, access to health care, and children and their education. More specifically:
On Monday, April 12, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced a new Department of Attorney General webpage devoted to informing Michigan residents on the state’s new expungement laws, when they go into effect, the eligibility requirements, forms, and downloadable checklists.
As of April 11, a person convicted of one or more misdemeanor or local ordinance marijuana crimes may petition the convicting court to set aside the convictions if they were based on activity that would not have been a crime after December 6, 2018 — when a 2018 voter-passed initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Michigan went into effect. By visiting the webpage, Michiganders can access the filing and service requirements, a checklist specifically designated for misdemeanor marijuana offenses, and frequently asked questions.
Also, as of April 11, a person convicted of one or more criminal offenses including felonies but not more than a total of three felonies, may petition the convicting court to set aside the convictions. The webpage provides filing and service requirements, and a checklist specifically designed for this part of the expungement law.
The Attorney General has also established an email address specifically devoted to answering questions on the new expungement laws. Questions on the expungement process or any information provided on the Department expungement webpage can be directed via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday, April 14, that the state is working to expand the use of antibody therapies designed to significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 infection.
When administered to non-hospitalized patients within 10 days of symptom onset, monoclonal antibodies may reduce symptoms and the risk of hospitalizations and emergency room visits associated with the virus. Michiganders who contract COVID-19 should ask their health care providers about receiving this treatment and whether it is right for them.
Additional information on monoclonal antibody therapy can be found at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Combatting COVID websiteand Michigan.gov/COVIDTherapy.
Michigan residents seeking more information about the COVID-19 vaccine can visit Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine. Information on this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.
I hope you can join me for a Virtual Coffee Hour Friday, April 23, between noon and 1 p.m., on Zoom. This is a great opportunity to discuss important issues in our district from the comfort and safety of your own home.
Please click here to register and feel free to include any questions you may have for me. I’ll do my best to address everyone’s question during the coffee hour, and we’ll send you the link to the meeting before the start of the event.
I look forward to chatting with you and hope to see you online!
I have other questions. Are you and your office still available?
To keep you and my staff healthy and safe, we are working remotely until further notice. Please call our office at (517) 373-1801 or send me an email at SenWBrinks@senate.michigan.gov, as you normally would, and we will do our best to avoid any interruption of service.
I am still working diligently and engaging with folks in our community, but all in-person events have been canceled for the time being. You can follow me on Facebook or check my website at SenatorBrinks.com for more information on any future events.
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