For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Nicholson
Wed., April 21, 2010 517-244-1384 (office), 517-599-1001(cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Mid-Michigan residents call for
preserving programs for young children
Parents, educators say state can’t afford to cut
services for children age 5 and younger
OKEMOS, Mich. – Parents, teachers, and business and community leaders turned out today to support programs for Mid-Michigan’s youngest citizens, saying an economic recession is no time to be pulling the rug out from under local kids.
“Today’s young children are Michigan’s future citizens and workers,” said Michelle Nicholson, coordinator of the Ingham County Great Start Collaborative, which sponsored the community forum held at Chippewa Middle School. “We have to build our future economy right here and now, and investing in early childhood programs is the best way to do that.”
The Okemos event is the second of six community forums to be held across Michigan this spring. The goal is to create public forums for local parents and residents to be heard regarding the value of early childhood programs and the necessity of making them a priority.
“We know young parents and other supporters of programs for young children make their voices heard at the ballot box, but these events offer people a more personal, direct way to tell Michigan’s elected officials, ‘Hands off early childhood programs!’ ” said Judy Samelson, CEO of the Early Childhood Investment Corp. (ECIC).
ECIC is a nonprofit public corporation based in Lansing that oversees the state’s system of early childhood programs, including 55 Great Start Collaboratives in communities across the state. The collaboratives work to make sure a comprehensive system of local programs ¬and services, including those addressing educational, health and social needs, is available for young children in the community.
The panel was moderated by Sheri Jones of WLNS- TV 6 Lansing. Panelists included Rep. Richard Ball, R-Laingsburg, Jane Zehnder-Merrell of the Michigan League for Human Services, and Carolyn Bloodworth, secretary/treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation. Cheryl Kreger, superintendent of Okemos Public Schools, welcomed the audience.
Michigan was one of just a handful of states to cut early childhood programs last year – by as much as $200 million, according to some estimates. Advocates fear the coming year could bring even more cuts.
“We want our legislators to know that Michigan’s children and young people are at risk,” Nicholson said. “We can’t afford to keep cutting the programs and services our children need for their future in an attempt to solve our budget crisis today.”
Seventy-five percent of Michigan voters in a survey last year said it was personally important to them that early childhood be protected from budget cuts.
Nine out of 10 said it was either extremely or very important, including 96 percent of Democrats, 90 percent of independents and 87 percent of Republicans.
Contact: Michelle Nicholson