In Blog: Factually Speaking

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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Two days ago, my granddaughter was born, and she has already brought so much happiness to our family (well, the jury may still be out for her older brother).

When I hold her in my arms, I can’t help but think of what the future holds for her. What kind of world awaits her? What will college cost in 18 years? What jobs will be available?

Due to the nature of my work at the League, the joy of this occasion is also marked with an appreciation of the challenges that lie ahead—for my grandchildren and others. I think of the countless little babies across Michigan who are being brought into the same world, but are going to live markedly different and much more difficult lives.

So much of a child’s life is determined by the circumstances they are born into and raised in. Many pregnant women don’t have access to the prenatal care they need, affecting their babies’ development. A child’s health is determined by a variety of factors, including where they live, the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat. Too often, these circumstances are affected by income and race.

From there, it is easy to connect the dots to children’s development and their education. And a child’s opportunity, as well as their ability to learn, influences whether or not they will go to college, what jobs they will pursue, and how much money they make as adults. They then become parents, hoping their kids will be better off than they were.

And this is what drives me. This is why, as “Mimi” to three grandchildren, I am still making the trek to Lansing every day to create a better life for all kids and all families in Michigan.

Our work is focused on a two-generation approach that helps kids by improving the conditions that their parents are dealing with. The cost of child care has gotten outrageous, rivaling college costs. Too many workers are still without reasonable family leave or earned paid sick leave, forcing parents to choose between work and vital wages and taking care of their kids. Adults without adequate training or a college degree have a hard time finding a good-paying job, but can’t afford to go back to school.

From our Kids Count work to the state budget, we are working to help kids directly as well. We will keep fighting to prevent child abuse and neglect, ensure all kids have access to healthcare and dental care, and invest in quality education from child care to college.
We all want a good life for our kids and grandkids. And if you work in public policy, all kids are “our” kids. That goes for lawmakers as well, especially those coming to Lansing for the first time. In the coming year, I urge legislators to treat all kids in Michigan like they would their own, regardless of their geography, skin color or income. By creating a better life for babies and families today, we can create a stronger community and economy tomorrow.

— Gilda Z. Jacobs

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