O’Brien welcomes Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduates to the Senate

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, welcomed the Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy to the Senate during its annual visit to the Capitol.

O’Brien and colleague Senator Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, honored the 119 cadets, cadre staff and Academy Director LTC Jefferey R. Connell with a special presentation during Wednesday’s session.

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academy, based in Battle Creek, is a quasi-military, 17.5- month, two-phase program for Michigan’s at-risk youth, aged 16-18, who have dropped out of school or are at risk of dropping out. According to the academy, the program incorporates eight core components that encourage physical, mental and moral development to change cadets’ lives.

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O’Brien testifies on bills to end schools’ use of seclusion and physical restraint of students

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, testified before the House Education Committee on Thursday in support of her bill that would in most cases prohibit Michigan’s public school districts from placing students into seclusion or in physical restraint.

“On August 25, 2003, a mother sent her child to school. He never returned home,” O’Brien said. “Limiting the use of restraint and seclusion and training school staff in the proper way to implement these techniques in specific emergencies will help ensure our students’ safety and stop tragedies like the one in my own community from happening again.”

O’Brien’s legislation is part of a 10-bill, bipartisan and bicameral package. Senate Bill 835 would establish a uniform policy in Michigan regarding the use of seclusion and physical restraint. O’Brien cited a 2003 Kalamazoo case in which 15-year-old Michael Renner Lewis III died from prolonged physical restraint as a prime example for why changes are needed.

The legislation also stems from recommendations developed from public hearings and a survey conducted by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on how to address issues facing special needs students in the state.

The bills remain before the committee for further consideration.

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O’Brien’s CARE Act signed into law

LANSING, Mich. — Senator Margaret O’Brien’s bill to support in-home caregivers when providing assistance for loved ones after they leave the hospital has been signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“The CARE Act will ensure our caregivers receive training and support in caring for their loved ones,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “This common sense legislation will allow caregivers to learn how to provide appropriate care. I appreciate the strong partnership with AARP and the Michigan Hospital Association in advocating for vulnerable citizens.”

Senate Bill 352, now Public Act 85 of 2016, and referred to as the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, provides in-home caregivers, designated by soon-to-be discharged patients, with hospital-provided consultation and instruction for any after-care assistance tasks that do not require a licensed professional once a patient is released.

According to AARP, family caregiving is on the rise in Michigan, with more than two million caregivers providing care to loved ones each year.

O’Brien introduced the CARE Act last May.

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