The rush of a million feelings.
That’s how I’d explain what I felt the first time I held my daughter in my arms. Love, strength, weakness, joy, pride, excitement, fear. My breath still catches when I see her each morning … realizing how far she’s come in her little lifetime, and how much we still have to learn together.
The people in our lives who serve as “mothers”—be they adoptive or biological parents, stepparents, foster parents, teachers, relatives, or close friends—all feel that range of emotions when it comes to seeing that child they love. But some mothers face more barriers than others when it comes to lifting up their children and helping them thrive.
Last month we released the 2019 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, and while things have improved for a lot of Michigan families and children, there’s still a lot of work to be done across the state.
Twenty-three percent of kids live in working families who are struggling to make ends meet. Low-wage jobs, unaffordable child care, inadequate housing and lack of resources make it so hard for moms to get through each day.
Moms of color face barriers before their babies are even born, as their access to adequate prenatal care is so much lower. Plus, their babies are more likely to be born too early and to die before their first birthdays.
We’re not doing our best, Michigan. We know that racism and implicit bias play major roles in health inequity, and we must do more to improve outcomes.
I had the opportunity to speak last week at the Mamas’ March in Lansing, which was hosted by Mothering Justice. Moms (and adorable babies) from Detroit and around Michigan gathered to demand a voice in our system.
Mothers and caregivers are the foundation of our state, and lawmakers can do more to enact policies that support them: Maternal healthcare. Paid family leave. Affordable child care. Earned sick leave. Equity in healthcare.
Building a stronger Michigan starts with improving the foundation, and because of a wealth of data and input from people like you, we know what will help moms and families to thrive. That’s why our Kids Count book and Owner’s Manual for Michigan don’t just explain what’s broken—they explain how to fix it. We can modernize the state Earned Income Tax Credit, expand home visiting programs for families, increase access to high-quality, affordable child care, support kids who are leaving the foster care system, make preschool more available for those who need it most, and improve K-12 education.
And raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction, which recently passed in separate packages out of the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate. This was a key policy recommendation of our Owner’s Manual and our 2017, 2018 and 2019 Kids Count books, and after years of hard work, we are closer than ever before to seeing this law change.
By enacting this change, we can help end some of the heartbreak and worry that Michigan moms have been facing and take better care of our state’s young people. Please join me in thanking Michigan legislators for their action on behalf of Michigan kids, and encouraging them to work quickly to reach a compromise between the House and Senate versions.
Moms will always feel a rush of emotions when it comes to their kids, and caring for children will always be a challenge. But we can do a whole lot to make a better place for our kids to grow up. A better place for a mom to feel strong enough. A place with more joy than fear.
So as you celebrate the mothers in your life this month, be sure to push for the policies that will lift them up.