Parent partners help legislators understand children’s issues

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When it comes to helping children and families, Michelle Lord is more than just a face in the crowd. A mother of three, she turned battles with addiction and custody issues into a quest to help others.

"The families can relate with me," she said. "I've been there, done that. They can listen to me a little better."

As a counselor in the Child Abuse Council's Parent Partner program, she's helping to restore families in Scott County.

Broken families face more challenges than ever. That's as the Parent Partner program tries to do more with less.

"Every one of us that is a parent partner has been through the system," said Amanda Golden, a mother of two boys. "We know what it's like to lose our children, and then have them returned to us."

It's one reason why state lawmakers from Iowa and Illinois attended a special session in Moline on Friday. Hosted by Voices in Action for QC Children, it's a coalition of local organizations that serve kids and families.

Lawmakers came to listen and learn about issues facing children and families. These are priorities that sometimes wind up on the budget back burner.

Illinois and Iowa face these issues with different situations. Illinois remains cash-strapped while Iowa enters 2013 with a record surplus.

"I think there's going to be a lot of lost children," said Marilynne Panozzo, another counselor with Parent Partner. "It breaks my heart."

Family problems lead to bigger issues down the road. It affects everything from the dropout rate to the crime rate.

For parents like Michelle Lord, it's a real warning about the future.

"If we don't have funding or the resources that we need, I think our child abuse and neglect are going to rise just the way that they are now," she concluded.

It's a call to action from a mom who knows what she's talking about.