ECM Statement on Flint Water Crisis
Our mission at Every Child Matters is to raise awareness of the problems affecting children’s health and well-being and to demand greater investments in programs that address the needs of America’s families. Therefore, we find it necessary to address the ongoing crisis of lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan.
Every Child Matters condemns the actions of Michigan officials that resulted in the irreversible harm to thousands of children exposed to lead from Flint River water. The decision to switch Flint’s water supply from Detroit’s treated water facilities to untreated water from the Flint River was a choice to prioritize cost-savings over the health and well-being of every Flint resident.
We are concerned that it took more than a year for state officials to publicly acknowledge that Flint water was contaminated and take initial actions to restore safe drinking water. We are deeply troubled by the evidence that state officials ignored constituent complaints about the Flint water supply and recommended state employees not to drink water sourced from the Flint River long before publicly acknowledging that the water was unsafe.
Every Child Matters stands with the families affected by the Flint water crisis. We are disturbed by the disproportionate rate at which lead poisoning has affected children of color and low-income children in Flint and across the country. This is compounded by the hurdles that often prevent over-prosecuted communities and undocumented immigrant communities from accessing clean water, lead testing, infrastructural improvements and medical treatment that could help to mitigate the harmful impact of lead exposure.
We commend the EPA and other federal agencies that have opened investigations into lead contamination in Flint, and urge them to consider rule-changes that would require state and local officials to report toxic levels of lead in water and take prompt action to improve water quality.
We call on Congress to act swiftly to provide funding to repair Flint’s water infrastructure and to provide safe drinking water, testing, and treatment services to all Flint residents. In addition, we urge Congress to consider additional federal and state investment in Head Start and other programs that support healthy learning environments for young children. Ninety percent of brain development occurs before age five, making young children particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead exposure. Guaranteeing access to high-quality early learning programs for all of Flint’s children is an important first step to improve the outcomes for the children and families whose lives have been permanently impacted by the Flint water crisis.