Michigan worst state for child well-being in Great Lakes region

Jun 24, 2013

Michigan has the highest rate of child poverty in the Great Lakes region, according to a report released Monday morning.

As Michigan Radio’s Jake Neher reported, data from the 2013 Kids Count survey, a nationwide study that ranks states based on child well-being, shows that about 560,000 children in Michigan live in poverty.

That statistic has increased by 6% over the last several years.

In other areas, the state does show some signs of improvement.

Only 4% of kids in Michigan are uninsured. Nationwide, about 7% of children lack health insurance.

The state also ranks high when it comes to children who have a parent with at least a high school diploma.

But Gilda Jacobs, president of the Michigan League for Public Policy, says the state’s high rate of impoverished children is unacceptable.

“Despite the fact that Michigan seems to be the comeback state, we really have a huge way to go in terms of fighting childhood poverty, “ Jacobs said.

 

A map illustrating how states ranked on the Kids Count 2013 Economic Well-Being ranking. Michigan was ranked 36 out of all 50 states.
A map illustrating how states ranked on the Kids Count 2013 Economic Well-Being ranking. Michigan was ranked 36 out of all 50 states.
Credit Kids Count 2013 / Annie E. Casey Foundation

Jacobs argues that policymakers in both Lansing and Washington have done little to address the problem.

“Kids are going to grow up in poverty if their family is in poverty,” Jacobs said. “We can change the needle on that by making certain target investments. And we really haven’t done that yet.”

Jacobs says state lawmakers should restore Michigan’s tax credits for low-income families and ease restrictions on welfare cash assistance.

But Governor Rick Snyder argues that federal low-income tax credits already do enough to help working poor families.

Snyder has instead pushed for bigger investments in early childhood education and an improved economy. With the Governor’s support, the Michigan Legislature expanded the budget for pre-K education by $65 million last month — the largest expansion of its kind in the country.

 - Melanie Kruvelis, Michigan Radio Newsroom