MLPP Blog: Factually Speaking

KIDS COUNT at 25!

Added July 22nd, 2014 by Judy Putnam | Print This Entry Print This Entry | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Judy Putnam

Life for Michigan kids improved in important ways since 1990 with fewer children dying and fewer births to teens, the 25th edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book, released today, finds.

These are heartening trends because they prove that good public policy does make a positive difference. For example, the state’s graduated driver’s license helped reduced the number of teens dying on the highway and sustained public health and education campaigns resulted in fewer teen pregnancies.

While there were many improvements since 1990, troubling trends over the quarter century for Michigan are a big jump in poverty, more kids living in unaffordable housing and more children being raised by single parents.

The report also gives a picture of how Michigan compares with other states. This year, Michigan ranked 32nd for overall child well-being, with No. 1 being the best. This puts Michigan in the bottom half of states — and most concerning– the bottom quarter of the states for education, one of four domains ranked in the report.

At 38th for education, it ranks with many traditionally poor states in the South, while our Midwest neighbors fare much better, including Minnesota, which is the fifth best in the country for overall child well-being and sixth best in education.

It’s worth noting that Michigan’s test scores and other education indicators haven’t plummeted. In fact, they have improved some since the 1990 Data Book, and are about the same as last year’s report. The drop from 32nd last year to 38th this year for education means that other states are improving faster.

In other words, Michigan is running in place while other states race ahead.

Michigan ranks 37th for students not proficient in reading in fourth grade, 38th for eighth-grade math and 39th for students graduating on time.

Only in preschool, where Michigan ranks as the 23rd best among the states, is Michigan in the top half of states in the area of education. Just over half of 3- and 4-year-olds do not attend preschool, and that rate is surely on the track to improve as Michigan invests $65 million this year and an additional $65 million for the budget year that begins Oct. 1 in expanding preschool for 4-year-olds.

We know that for kids to be successful, they need strong families, good schools and safe and supportive communities. To achieve that, the League, the KIDS COUNT Michigan partner, recommends:

  • Restoring education funding cut since the start of the Great Recession, with a focus on making sure kids can read by the end of third grade.
  • Supporting families earning the least through tax credits and more robust food and cash assistance.
  • Increasing child care payments to help working parents.
  • Investing in strategies to reduce the 8.4 percent of Michigan babies born too small, particularly in communities of color.

Over the past 25 years, we’ve learned a lot about how to improve kids’ lives. Those lessons, combined with political will, can help us create opportunities for all children.

– Judy Putnam

 

Maternal and infant risks in Michigan’s legacy cities

Added June 17th, 2014 by Jane Zehnder-Merrell | Print This Entry Print This Entry | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jane Zehnder-Merrell

Roughly one of every four children in the state lives in one of Michigan’s legacy cities located across the southern half of the state’s Lower Peninsula. These legacy cities, once economic and social powerhouses, are now, in many cases, struggling with population loss and high unemployment.

Perhaps, not so surprising, risks to maternal and infant well-being are generally worse within these cities than the out-county areas in the counties where they are located.

The latest analysis of Right Start in Michigan, an annual report from Kids Count in Michigan, examines eight indicators to assess maternal and infant risks across the 15 so-called legacy cities. Only Ann Arbor, which has actually thrived in the new post-industrial economy, shows lower risk on almost all indicators than the out-county. (more…)

Race for Results: action needed

Added April 2nd, 2014 by Gilda Z. Jacobs | Print This Entry Print This Entry | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Gilda Z. Jacobs
From the League’s First Tuesday newsletter
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In my long career as a policymaker and leader of a nonprofit, few reports have hit me as hard as the KIDS COUNT report out Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children for the first time shines a light on child well-being based on more than age and geography. This report uses an index that looks at the conditions and outcomes — the opportunities for children — based on race/ethnicity.

It’s very clear that African American, Hispanic/Latino and American Indian children have far fewer opportunities in our country and more barriers to become successful adults than white or Asian children. In Michigan as well, there is a strong race-based pattern, and it’s not pretty. (more…)

‘Opportunity is who we are’

Added January 29th, 2014 by Judy Putnam | Print This Entry Print This Entry | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Judy Putnam

President Obama hit on several important themes Tuesday evening in his State of the Union address but one stood out for its clarity: opportunity.

The president noted that only in America could the daughter of a factory worker, Mary Barra, become CEO of General Motors; or the son of a barkeeper, John Boehner, become House Speaker; or could he, the son of single mom, lead the most powerful country on the planet.

He said he and his wife, Michelle, “want every child to have the same chance our country gave us.’’ (more…)

Early reading critical

Added January 28th, 2014 by Jane Zehnder-Merrell | Print This Entry Print This Entry | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jane Zehnder-Merrell

Michigan is losing ground on a key benchmark in its long-term goal of expanding its educated workforce. The state is among only six that showed no improvement in reading proficiency among fourth-graders over the decade between 2003 and 2013, according to a just released Data Snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Almost seven of every 10 Michigan fourth-graders did not demonstrate reading proficiency in 2013—up 1 percentage point from 2003 while the national average dropped by 4 percentage points, according to the review of national test results across the states. Just over half (53%) of all fourth-graders in the best state, Massachusetts, scored below proficient in reading compared with almost four of five Mississippi fourth-graders. (more…)

War on Poverty: Part 2

Added January 8th, 2014 by Gilda Z. Jacobs | Print This Entry Print This Entry | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Gilda Z. Jacobs
From the League’s First Tuesday newsletter
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Today marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s now-famous State of the Union address that launched the War on Poverty:

“Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope — some because of their poverty, and some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity.

While some pundits will undoubtedly seize the anniversary as an opportunity to wrongly declare the War on Poverty a failure, we should instead recommit to LBJ’s vision, as there is plenty of evidence that it worked. And what an incredible return on investment! (more…)

Walking the walk with infant mortality

Added December 2nd, 2013 by Judy Putnam | Print This Entry Print This Entry | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Judy Putnam

Factors that may drive Michigan’s tragically high infant mortality rate include stress, unemployment, poverty and neighborhood safety in addition to what might be thought of as the more traditional reasons, such as lack of healthcare or poor safe sleep practices, according to a new report from the Michigan Department of Community Health. The report takes a broad look at why Michigan’s rate is so high and in particular why an African American infant in Michigan is 2.6 more times likely to die before reaching the child’s first birthday than a white infant. (more…)

KIDS COUNT: First eight years

Added November 4th, 2013 by Jane Zehnder-Merrell | Print This Entry Print This Entry | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jane Zehnder-Merrell

Legislation gaining attention in Lansing would force third-graders behind in reading to redo a grade. A new KIDS COUNT policy report out today offers some better options.

Michigan policymakers are addressing the importance of investing in early childhood by expanding the state-funded preschool program for 4-year-olds, a key recommendation in the report, The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. But the administration and Legislature fall down on another important recommendation: Support for low-income families. (more…)

Michigan’s child poverty unacceptably high

Added September 19th, 2013 by Jane Zehnder-Merrell | Print This Entry Print This Entry | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jane Zehnder-Merrell

Michigan’s child poverty rate now matches those of Florida and West Virginia, according to the latest data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. All the states with child poverty rates higher than that of Michigan are located in the South or Southwest where overall child well-being lags national averages.

Although Michigan’s child poverty rate didn’t continue its upward climb in 2012, it is stagnating at a relatively high level—affecting roughly one of every four children. More than half a million children in Michigan lived in a family with income below the federal poverty level ($23,300 for a family of four and $18,500 for a single parent with two children). Roughly half of these children live in families in extreme poverty—with annual income below $10,000. (more…)

Let’s make high-quality education a priority

Added August 22nd, 2013 by Pat Sorenson | Print This Entry Print This Entry | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Pat Sorenson

This week, United Ways, their partners and caring citizens are engaged in a nationwide campaign—United Way Education Action Week —to raise awareness about the need to prioritize investments leading to a high quality education for all children, including the critical milestone of reading proficiency by fourth grade.

A quick scan of the latest Michigan Kids Count data book makes it clear that Michigan has a long way to go to make sure that children have the reading skills they need by the end of third grade to succeed in school, earn a high school diploma, and move on to the postsecondary studies and training needed to prosper in our changing economy. (more…)

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