Reporting Pat Sweeting
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DETROIT (WWJ) – State lawmakers and concerned citizens were in Downtown Detroit Monday to talk about the impact of public policy decisions on the states children.
The Michigan League for Human Services (representing about 50 member organizations) held its annual meeting with an eye toward the impact of state policies on Michigan children.
Jane Zander Merrill is director of Kids Count in Michigan -she spoke with WWJ’s Pat Sweeting about the cutting of funding for the unemployed and the underemployed – which directly affects the stability and the lives of the children in their formative years.
” (the funding cuts) … destabilize the family … housing becomes difficult – it becomes very difficult for families to stay together – it also makes it very difficult to have food … I was just looking through a series of recommendations about what to do … to buy food in bulk or buy canned foods that you can store,” said Zander Merrill. But that is not something you can do, if you don’t have housing.
State Representative Lisa House of Detroit says the committee handling children and family programs is fighting an uphill battle and the state is cutting where ever it can but the result is harm to the less fortunate.
“Well, what we continue to do is to advocate for the residents who are impacted, talking to the Republican representatives who also represent poor communities to say - not only are the folks that I represent being harmed but the people were you live also and how do you feel about that,” asked Rep. House.
One policy that’s having a devastating effect is the removal from public assistance of families that have reached a 48-month deadline.
Dwayne Wells, President of Gleaners Community Food Bank, says nearly 5 million pounds of food was distributed in November – which is a record for Gleaners.
“It was about a 12 percent increase over last year, we did about 4.2 million last year … we continue to work very hard to try to source food locally, regionally, and nationally to bring that in to meet the demand that we are seeing,” said Wells.
Wells estimates that one in three children have no idea where their next meal is coming from.