Calling on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature to adopt a comprehensive vision for healthy children and secure families, the Michigan Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics (MIAAP) has released a “Blueprint for Children” (miaap.org/blueprint), spelling out public policy recommendations to improve the lives of Michigan children.
“Investing in our children should be the highest priority for the Legislature and the new administration,” says Jared Burkhart, MIAAP executive director.
Mental health services, trauma-informed care and evidence-based suicide prevention standards are high on the list of MIAAP’s priorities for legislative action to promote healthy children.
“All children require access to high-quality pediatric-specific health care, so they can thrive throughout their life span,” says Dr. Sharon Swindell, MIAAP president. “A healthy child is more likely to attend school, learn and become a productive adult. Thanks to the Medicaid expansion in 2014, 97 percent of Michigan children now have health insurance. We cannot go backward on that critical achievement, which has helped to significantly improve health outcomes for our children.
Because the percentage of children born into poverty in Michigan has steadily increased over the past 40 years -- now approaching 50 percent -- MIAAP is calling for improved access to affordable housing, an increase in the minimum wage and paid parental time off for family illnesses and prenatal and postnatal periods.
“From workplace supports to healthy food access, we need to advance efforts to ensure that parents give their children the best foundation for the future,” Burkhart says. “We need to eliminate child poverty and communities of concentrated poverty.”
Noting that a child’s Zip code, rather than his or her genetic code, is the greatest predictor of life outcomes, MIAAP calls for measures to provide access to safe and affordable drinking water and lead-free homes, protect children from gun violence and change the tobacco age to 21.
Affordable, accessible, high quality child care, early literacy programs and greater support for public school systems also make MIAAP’s list for action by governmental leaders.
“Child health and well-being must be elevated and maintained as a priority in our state,” Burkhart stresses. “We are asking that state agencies implement a ‘children in all policies’ approach to decision-making.”
The Blueprint for Children has been endorsed by Michigan League for Public Policy, Michigan Environmental Council and major Michigan children’s hospitals.
MIAAP is a nonprofit, professional organization of more than 1,000 Michigan pediatricians, dedicated to the optimal physical, mental and social health for all infants, children, adolescents and young adults.