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Success! State budget includes $1.25 million to keep Michigan kids safe from lead dangers

Jun 20, 2013
More than $1 million to help keep Michigan children safe from lead poisoning was included in a budget bill signed late last week by Governor Rick Snyder. These extra dollars were a direct result of the advocacy and education efforts by the Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Housing (MIALSH) Coalition.

The appropriation, $1.25 million, will be used in the 2013-2014 year budget. Advocates expect the Department of Community Health (DCH) to use the money to address the backlog of homes waiting to be made lead safe and for nursing and case management support for affected families.

“This funding brings us closer to the day when no children are lead-poisoned,” said Tina Reynolds, of the MIALSH Coalition and the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC). “We have the ability to eradicate lead poisoning entirely in Michigan. This bipartisan budget agreement is a step in that direction.”

More than 6,700 kids in Michigan exceed the Centers for Disease Control’s reference level for lead, although the CDC says there is “no safe level” of lead in a child’s blood. Effects of lead exposure and poisoning include lowered IQ, permanent reproductive and nervous system damage, behavioral problems, lack of impulse control, aggression, lower academic achievement, and higher incarceration rates.

The budget appropriation builds on the work of the coalition last year, when $2 million for lead programs was included in proposed budgets for Fiscal Year 2013. That funding made it all the way to Gov. Snyder’s desk, but was one of just three budget items he vetoed.

MIALSH is a statewide lead advocacy group formed to secure adequate and sustainable funding for lead poisoning prevention activities in Michigan. MIALSH has a diverse membership that includes public health agencies, lead service providers, lead affected families, lead contractors and inspectors, DCH, environmental health organizations, and the landlord community among others.

MIALSH advocates for renewed state funding to make homes lead safe for children. In addition to MEC, its core leadership team includes representatives from the Detroit Lead Partnership, including CLEARCorps Detroit, as well as the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, Michigan Council for Maternal & Child Health, the Michigan Department of Community Health (DCH), Lyke Thompson of Wayne State University, and the Ecology Center.

MEC Health Policy Director Tina Reynolds serves as the lead coordinator of MIALSH. She organizes monthly conference calls attended by core partners, representatives of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), doctors and nurses, health departments, and the Wayne County Prosecutors office.

MEC and MIALSH partners have started to gain important traction in efforts to educate state leaders about the continued high incidence of lead poisoning in our state; the nearly foolproof effectiveness of programs to test high-risk children and abate homes; and the dramatic cuts to previous funding for programs that work.
Hugh McDiarmid Jr.: 248-660-4300
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