News Release: MCC Urges Governor’s Population Council to Focus on Family Growth and Support
Policies that support low-income families and encourage couples to have children should be among Council’s recommendations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 28, 2023
(Lansing, Mich.) — To grow Michigan’s stagnant population, policymakers should view proposed solutions through the lens of supporting family life by making it easier to have and raise children in this state, according to a letter from Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) to the Governor’s council tasked with recommending policy goals to grow Michigan’s population.
MCC shared this perspective with the co-chairs of the Growing Michigan Together Council, the advisory panel charged with developing strategies to grow Michigan’s population. The Council has invited public input as it compiles formal recommendations for the Governor and Legislature before its Dec. 15 deadline.
The letter notes that the Governor has said that she wants Michigan to provide “expanded opportunities for families.” Much of the public discourse around the Council’s work, however, has focused on attracting people to move to Michigan. In its letter, MCC said “it is also important to consider policies to help directly foster family growth in our state,” given that the “family is the core social unit in society.”
Along with Michigan’s stagnant population growth, MCC referenced a recent report indicating that Michigan’s birth rate is the lowest it’s been since World War II, which “represents an opportunity to consider policies to help reverse this trend and encourage more people to have children and raise families.”
“Policymakers must consider the state’s declining birth rate in tandem with addressing the state’s overall population decline,” said Paul Long, president and CEO of Michigan Catholic Conference. “Children are a sign of a healthy and growing community, and a state or any society with a falling birth rate is one that is in danger of perpetual decline.”
While all families need support, MCC said particular focus is needed to help Michigan’s lower-income residents afford the opportunity to start and raise families.
“As part of the Council’s goal to recommend policies that grow the population, our state should pursue measures that assist parents – or those who want to become parents - who are facing difficult economic circumstances,” Long wrote in the letter to the Council. “By creating a strong culture of support for parents who need assistance with food, housing, childcare, health insurance, material necessities for children, or even finding a job, Michigan should be a place where people can see themselves raising a family, no matter their circumstance.”
With a particular focus on helping mothers and fathers in need, as well as their unborn or newborn children, MCC asked the Council as a starting point to consider recommending state funding for several programs and policies such as:
- Pregnancy and parenting support services that provide counseling, education, and material assistance to pregnant women and their babies through twelve months after birth.
- Assistance for Michigan’s network of pregnancy resource centers, which exist to help parents with the resources they need to start and raise a family, from pregnancy to birth and beyond.
- Creation of a maternal navigator pilot program to refer pregnant women for counseling, substance use disorder services, and pregnancy and parenting resources.
In its letter, MCC noted that the proposals have been put forth in recent years as budget spending recommendations but were vetoed by the Governor because the policies did not include abortion as an option for pregnant women in need.
Other policies that could contribute to supporting family life in Michigan, according to MCC, include adoption of a state-based child tax credit, continued implementation and expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, expanding access to paid family leave time, and making quality childcare more affordable and accessible.
Additionally, MCC says that crafting public policy with a focus on encouraging couples to have children and improving family life in Michigan will help the families already here to grow and prosper, and at the same time, attract people from other states to move here with their family or to start their family here.
“Making it easier to start and raise a family for all people — especially the low-income, marginalized, and vulnerable — is a forward-thinking and long-term approach to help grow Michigan’s population,” MCC stated in the letter.
In addition to the policies listed above, MCC also puts forth for consideration the policies it includes in its biannual Blueprint for the Common Good document as solutions for addressing the state’s population decline. The document, released at the beginning of each two-year legislative session, lists policies MCC believes contributes to human flourishing and the advancement of the common good. The policies span all aspects of human life, including providing for the poor and vulnerable, improving access to education and healthcare, welcoming immigrants and migrants, and preserving and protecting the environment and natural resources.
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.
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