Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin was in Livingston County Tuesday visiting several locations that support those who suffer from, and work with, individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

The 8th District Democrat from Holly continued her month-long Costs of Care tour meeting with involved parties and sharing plans on how provide better mental health care to those in-need at 4 separate locations. The day began with a roundtable discussion involving caregivers at the Arc of Livingston in Genoa Township (top picture). There they discussed how low wages for workers de-incentivizes those who care from sticking around in a job that, while it is important to them, cannot support them. Director of Community Mental Health, Connie Conklin, noted during discussion that they don’t have additional money to give. Further discussion at the roundtable revolved around federal money coming in and being reserved for specific areas, like for battling opioid addiction for example, and how it might be distributed differently if it were better based on community needs.

At the second stop, Stepping Stones Engagement Center in Howell, Slotkin addressed this again, saying how while there needs to be standards, she is a believer in community based actions. She said that looking within the 8th district, she sees 3 very different counties, with very different problems and solutions. What works in Ingham County, she said, may not work in Livingston County or northern Oakland County, and vice versa. Local entities having some freedom of action in how the money coming in is important.

The trip then continued to the Village of Fowlerville, where Slotkin engaged with individuals from Genesis House (middle picture), who shared what having a place to come to where they felt accepted meant to them. The final stop was at the under construction Torch 180 building, also in Fowlerville (bottom picture), where the congresswoman heard the story of its creation and the owners’ path to creating a place which will serve to prepare developmentally disabled young adults for productive careers.

Slotkin shared throughout the day three bills she is working on to bring mental health relief to the area. One, she said, is to help improve the pay of mental health workers. A second bill updates the amount of money a special needs adult can have in their savings account without incurring penalties. The current limit is $2,000, which Slotkin says has been in place since the 1970s. Her new bill would raise that limit to $5,000. The third allows companies to match funds with parents in able accounts, to help when the parents are no longer around. Those bills, she says, should be ready to be presented in September.

CMH Director Conklin said it meant a lot that Slotkin would come and visit, learning about the impacts of any decisions she may make on the federal level, and hearing from many of the people that they serve.

Slotkin will be back in Livingston County next Wednesday for a town hall meeting at Cleary University, beginning at 6:30pm. More details are available in our events section. (MK)