Welcome to my latest e-newsletter!
Workforce Training Can Eliminate Driver Responsibility Fees
If you or someone you know missed the Feb. 1 deadline to have driver responsibility fees eliminated by the end of March, there is still a chance to have fees removed before they expire Oct. 1. Michigan Works! and state government have developed a program that would allow qualified people to get rid of their driver responsibility fees before Oct. 1 by taking part in a workforce development training program.
Anyone interested should contact their local Michigan Works! office to get enrolled. The Genesee County Michigan Works! office is in the lower level of the Flint Service Center at 711 N. Saginaw St. in Flint. For more information call (810) 233-5627 ext. 702 | TTY: 711, or visit the office in person.
May is Foster Care Awareness Month
May is Foster Care Awareness Month. Dedicated to the all the children in the U.S. foster care system, Foster Care Month encourages everyone to raise their voices and show their support for foster youth everywhere. Kicking off Foster Care Month provides a platform to help repair a system that is plagued with shortages nationwide. Many foster children enter care with little to no belongings and have suffered the effects of abuse, poverty, neglect or even the death of their loved ones. There is a nationwide shortage of foster parents, money and resources that do not cover the essentials of a growing child.
With more than 400,000 children in the foster care system at any given time, and a new child placed into care every two minutes, the need for support services, essential items and foster parents is high. Foster children have an uphill battle with startling statistics to overcome and need the support of our communities across the country and in Michigan.
- 250,000 children enter foster care each year nationally.
- In Michigan, there are approximately 6,300 youth aged 18-25 with experience in foster care.
- Only 50 percent of youth in foster care graduate high school.
- Only 20 percent of youth who graduate high school will attend college and are eight times less likely to complete their degree while attending.
- Foster children suffer PTSD at more than twice the rate of U.S. war veterans.
- One in five foster children experience homelessness within one year of aging out of care.
- At ages 17 and 18, one third of young women in foster care are pregnant or parenting.
- More than 70 percent of inmates incarcerated were at one point in the foster care system.
- Stipends do not cover the essentials of a growing child.
Prioritizing foster children in higher education success initiatives can also lead to a more enriched workforce and stimulated economy both in Michigan and across the nation. Support for students can include tuition assistance, housing, and life skills coaching. Tremendous returns on investment can be achieved by providing effective services and supports.
A celebration of Foster Care Month is a time to acknowledge the foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. It is also a time to focus on ways to create a bright future for all children and youth in foster care. Supporting and raising awareness for foster children ensures a successful future, especially when it comes to higher education.
For more information on foster children and foster care in Michigan, please visit michigan.gov/fostercare.
Distracted Driving Awareness
Distracted driving is never OK. That’s why we’re pledging to help make our roads safer through It Can Wait, the national movement to end distracted driving. The It Can Wait movement does not stop at awareness — it drives people to make the choice to stop.
- 97 percent of teens agree that texting and driving is dangerous, yet 43 percent still text while driving.
- Seven in 10 people admit to using their smartphone behind the wheel, yet nearly a quarter of people don’t identify using a smartphone while driving as a major problem.
- More than 40,000 people died in car accidents last year, and every death caused by a distracted driver was 100 percent preventable.
The good news is that more than 13 million pledges — and counting — have been made by people to not drive distracted. You can take the pledge at itcanwait.com and watch a simulation showing the real consequences of looking at your phone, in addition to other great information.
Help for High April Heat Bills
A colder-than-normal April kept furnaces running, leaving some residents struggling to pay a higher than normal energy bill. Help is available now through two programs — the Consumers Energy CARE Program and State Emergency Relief:
More than 5,000 spots remain in the CARE Program, a long-term plan that provides monthly bill discounts and forgives past-due balances to reward consistent payment and ongoing participation. Find more information at ConsumersEnergy.com/CARE.
For emergency situations, State Emergency Relief offers bill assistance to eligible households through May 31. Contact your local state Department of Health and Human Services office or apply online at MiBridges.michigan.gov.
Baby Birds are Starting to Leave Their Nests
Do you have a bird’s nest on your property? Soon you might notice the baby birds inside are starting to outgrow it. Because baby birds learn to fly by trial and error, it is not uncommon to find them on the ground outside their nests after an attempt at flight — especially if their flight feathers have not fully grown in yet. If you do see a baby bird on the ground, it’s best not to touch it, because the mom and dad will continue to take care of the bird even if it’s on the ground. If you find a sparsely feathered chick on the ground, it may have accidentally fallen from the nest before it is ready to fledge (learn to fly). If you know where the nest is, it is okay to put the chick back in the nest only if you can do so safely.
Touching a baby bird will not cause the adults to abandon it, but if you move a baby bird, the parents might be unable to find and care for it. The best option is to leave young birds alone to be raised by their parents. Birds, their nests and their eggs are protected by law and must be left alone. Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless a person is licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including birds, in Michigan.
Help keep Michigan’s wildlife wild. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/wildlife or contact DNR wildlife communications coordinator Hannah Schauer at (517) 284-6218.
DNR’s Trout Trails Web App Updated for 2018
Users of the DNR’s online Trout Trails web application now can conduct even more specialized searches thanks to its new filter feature that lets visitors search based on fish species and/or watersheds. Trout Trails is an interactive tool featuring fisheries biologist-verified trout waters that often are lesser-known but still are considered outstanding destinations. The app features more than 300 locations covering nearly every corner of the state, with additional locations being added over time.
Although Trout Trails is not a downloadable mobile app, it is compatible with all types of electronic devices. Each of its destinations features extensive information including trout species available, regulations, presence of stocked or naturally reproducing fish, driving directions, area lodging, restaurants, and noteworthy information (such as presence of fast water, canoe/kayak/tube accessibility, best times to fish, types of bait or lure to use, etc.).
Learn more about Trout Trails by contacting Elyse Walter at (517) 284-5839 or visiting www.michigan.gov/trouttrails.
MDOT 2018 Construction Map Now Available for Download
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has posted the 2018 Paving the Way state construction map online for motorists to download. The public is encouraged to download the map and print it at home or at their nearest library. The map is available at www.michigan.gov/mdotmaps, and will also be on display in all rest areas and Welcome Centers across the state in the coming weeks.
The most up-to-date construction information for state roads is always available on the MI Drive traffic website at www.michigan.gov/drive.
DNR Reminds New Hunters to Sign Up for Safety Classes
Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers remind new hunters that it’s not too early to sign up for safety classes. All first-time hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1960, must successfully complete a hunter safety course.
Even new hunters who are outside of the age requirement should consider taking a class. Hunter education courses teach responsibility, ethics, firearm safety, wildlife conservation and identification, game care, survival and first aid. Courses are offered across the state throughout the year, though most are conducted from August through October.
A course typically is comprised of two to five sessions with a total class time of 10 to 12 hours. Classes usually are conducted at outdoor clubs, schools, police stations and camps. In addition to traditional classroom courses, home-study and online courses — which use a self-paced method followed by a field day of material review and testing — are available. Students who elect to take an online or home-study course should contact an instructor prior to the course to ensure availability of the required field day. Students must successfully complete both the online or home-study course and the field day to earn their hunter education safety certificate. Hunter education is a partnership between the DNR Law Enforcement Division and more than 2,500 volunteer instructors. The program is funded through federal Pittman-Robertson Act taxes on sporting firearms, ammunition and archery equipment. Visit michigan.gov/huntereducation for more information on hunter education and to find a class near you.
Michiganders are proud to be from the Great Lakes State, and rightly so. While there are plenty of reasons to take pride in that heritage every day, an upcoming celebration at the Michigan History Center’s flagship museum in downtown Lansing makes it worth a special trip. Head to the Michigan History Museum Saturday, May 12, for a free, family-friendly day that celebrates the real stories of Michigan and its people.
The museum’s Michigan Day runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers opportunities to enjoy live music, mingle with a group of suffragettes, test your Michigan trivia knowledge, meet representatives from the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation, design your own lighthouse, and much more. Say “Yes!” and bring the whole family to this festive celebration of all things Michigan
Questions? Contact Michigan History Center engagement specialist Sara Gross, (517) 420-1342.
Services for Seniors Public Hearing
Learn about proposed services and programs to be available to older adults (60+) in Genesee, Lapeer, and Shiawassee Counties. Topics include caregiver services, planning for long-term care, in-home services, priority services and many more. This event will be held on Thursday, May 17, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Brennan Senior Center in Flint.
Reservations are not needed to attend the public hearings, but please call the senior center one day ahead for lunch reservations at (810) 766-7238. For more information on services for seniors and caregivers, or to obtain a copy of the Draft Annual Implementation Plan (AIP) call Valley Area Agency on Aging at (810) 239-7671 extension 217 or call toll free at (800) 978-6275. The Draft AIP is now available for request.
The Forest Township Senior Center is offering a free exercise class from 12:15-1 p.m. every Wednesday. The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program is a low-impact physical activity program proven to reduce pain and decrease stiffness. The routines include gentle range-of-motion exercises that are suitable for every fitness level. This program is being paid for by Valley Area Agency on Aging and SilverSneakers Flex Programs. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact Abbie Mars at Valley Area Agency on Aging at (810) 239-7671.
State Representative Pam Faris
48th House District