A New Voice for Kids: a National Children's Commission?

Feb 1, 2013

As a child growing up in 1970's and '80s Grand Rapids, I had the opportunity to try many things: basketball, flute lessons, acting, and sewing, to name a few. This might account for my inability to stay in one place, doing one thing. You say, "flakey," I say, "rich and varied interests." But one of my long-standing interests was and continues to be public radio as a tool of informed citizenship.

I'm Kimberly Springer and it’s my pleasure to join the State of Opportunity Project at Michigan Radio.  I’ll be here with you on the blog and on our social media outlets to encourage your participation in words and sound.

After several years away from the state, coming back to Michigan in late summer and in time for beautiful autumn was bittersweet. I'm glad to be back, but like many others, I'm concerned about the well-being of our state’s people and especially our children. It is heartening to hear the stories and voices of Michiganders struggling, working, surviving, and helping one another. Reflecting on my own solid upbringing here, but having experienced the European Union’s approach to children's issues, advocacy groups’ calls for a renewed National Commission on Children caught my attention. How might a national commission’s ideas impact the lives of Michigan children?

Since the last commission in 1991, at the federal level we have the Child Tax Credit and at the state level the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. But as Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus, notes in The Huffington Post, there is much more work to be done. Lesley’s organization and others would like the renewed commission to study the possibility of:

  • the creation of a Children’s Budget;
  • adoption of a Child Poverty Target;
  • creation of a Children’s Commission;
  • adoption of a Children’s Bill of Rights;
  • and the establishment of Youth Councils.

What do you think of the call for a Children’s Commission? How might this national entity impact the work of government, social service, and charities geared toward improving the lives of children living in poverty in Michigan? As Dustin Dwyer pointed out in yesterday's post, the most recent Kids Count in Michigan Report finds that more than 500,00 Michigan children are living in poverty.

You can read First Focus' brief report and weigh in below or on State of Opportunity's Facebook page.