Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Included in this edition are some important legislative and COVID-19 updates, along with a few helpful resources. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at (517) 373-1788 or KyraBolden@house.mi.gov for questions about this or any other state-level issue.
State Representative, 35th House District
COVID-19 Updates & Resources
COVID-19 Vaccine Help
If you know someone who doesn’t have access to the internet and they’re eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine or need help with vaccine translation services, call 2-1-1 and press ‘5’ for free, confidential assistance.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccines specifically in Oakland County, visit this website. This website also has resources for testing and frequently asked questions about COVID-19.
Elder Abuse Task Force Update
Educational opportunities offered through the EATF and part of the third initiatives were featured during the May 2022 Elder Abuse Task Force Symposium and the June 2022 Elder Abuse Task Force Symposium. The events were attended by hundreds and drew international participation.
The presentations featured during the symposium include:
- Adult Protective Services, May Part 1 and June Part 2.
- The Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman.
- Resources for members of the public interested in protecting older adults.
- Community resources for survivors of elder abuse.
- How to avoid guardianship and conservatorships.
- Identifying vulnerable adults and spotting signs of financial exploitation.
- Elder abuse awareness and scam prevention.
- Scams targeting seniors.
The latest newsletter also provides an update on a bipartisan package of bills recently voted out of the House Judiciary Committee. The legislation would implement fundamental reforms impacting guardians and conservators, who are individuals appointed by probate courts to act in the best interests of vulnerable individuals.
Michigan’s Elder Abuse Task Force launched in 2019 and consists of more than 55 organizations in the public, private and nonprofit sectors — all working together to combat elder abuse.
MDHHS Demonstrates Strong Progress in Keeping Children Safe
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) described its progress in improving safety and other outcomes for youth in the state’s child welfare system.
The update came during a virtual appearance before Judge Nancy G. Edmunds in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
“I’m pleased and optimistic,” Judge Edmunds said during the court hearing. “I think everyone seems to be heading in the right direction with the same goal in mind.” She said she would like the monitors appointed by the court to review and validate the department’s implementation of the new strategies and then share with the court the effects of the changes.
Over four months, MDHHS has implemented 67 strategies identified in a plan it developed in April to improve services provided to youth and families involved with the state’s child welfare system.
Some of the improvement strategies that MDHHS details include:
- Creating specialized staffing positions throughout the state to support relative/kinship caregivers, with more than 289 caregivers assisted by the staff.
- Creating the Division of Child Safety and Program Compliance to assist and provide additional oversight of contracted agencies that provide congregate care or place children in foster care homes or facilities.
- Increasing training for frontline staff and improving processes to reduce the number of sibling groups separated in foster care.
- Forming a partnership with the State Court Administrative Office to collect data that will help the department and the courts better monitor the time it takes for children to get permanent homes through reunification with their parents or adoption.
Federal court monitors have been tracking the MDHHS’ progress since a court settlement in 2008, following a 2006 lawsuit by the advocacy group Children’s Rights.
To view additional information about MDHHS’s progress in this area, go to www.michigan.gov/ChildWelfareAgreement.
988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline is Live
On July 16, a new and easy-to-remember mental health crisis 988 dialing code was implemented nationwide. The goal of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is to provide people in need with easier access to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) and its related crisis stabilization resources. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or visit the Lifeline Chat to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
- Pontiac Community Foundation and Lighthouse will administer $700,000 in food security assistance from Oakland County ARPA funds.
- The county is also allocating $250,000 to the Double Up Food Bucks program.
- The county is partnering with the Poverty Solutions Initiative at the University of Michigan to conduct a comprehensive healthy food system landscape study.
Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter, with the support of the Board of Commissioners, announced $700,000 in food assistance grants at the Oak Park Farmers Market to help eligible families access nutritious food as the prices of fruits, vegetables, milk and other staples continue to rise.
The county is also allocating $250,000 to the Double Up Food Bucks program, which doubles the money for fresh produce at farmers markets for people eligible for food assistance.
- Oakland County has the highest number of monkeypox cases in Michigan.
- County Executive Coulter is calling on the federal government to boost monkeypox vaccine supply.
- Paul Benson, who treats the LGBTQ+ community, says if an adequate supply becomes available, the monkeypox vaccine can eliminate the virus.
Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter launched the Oakland County Monkeypox Task Force to respond to the outbreak and educate the public about the illness. To date, the county has at least five confirmed or probable monkeypox cases, the highest of any county in Michigan.
Oakland County Health Officer Calandra Green will lead the task force which will help develop a communication and education plan about monkeypox and a strategy for outreach to the communities. They also will create a plan for the distribution of vaccines once they become more readily available.
Black Business Month
August is National Black Business Month. This is an opportunity to recognize the Black-owned businesses across Michigan. This month traces its history back to 2004 when Frederick E. Jordan, an engineering entrepreneur, teamed up with John William Templeton, president and executive editor of scholarly publishing company eAccess Corp to start the yearly event. Be sure to support Black-owned businesses here in the 35th House District!
Women’s Equality Day
August 26 is Women’s Equality Day in the United States. This day commemorates the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, which secured the right to vote for women. On this day, we celebrate all the hard work that led us to this moment, and we must acknowledge the work that still needs to be done for women’s equality.