children

moare / Morguefile

Federal law guarantees that children with disabilities have equal access to education. But what that actually looks like for Michigan kids very much depends upon where you live.

An investigation by Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project and Bridge Magazine has turned up disparities in the way schools choose which students should be in special education and the actual level of those services. Sarah Alvarez with State of Opportunity joined us, along with Bridge Magazine writer Ron French.

*Listen to Alvarez and French above

Sue Day / Flickr

Parenting a mentally ill child can be one of life's greatest challenges.

When you keep asking questions, keep searching for mental health care that can help your child, you may not get the right answers.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Alvarez is the Public Insight journalist for the State of Opportunity project.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is launching an effort to coordinate programs aimed at improving the lives of young people, especially children of color.

Mayor Virg Bernero says the community must work together to provide better opportunities for children and young adults.

Today is the day. After months and months of debate, Healthy Michigan is here. That's the official name for the state's newly expanded Medicaid program. Today, on Stateside: Who is eligible for the new coverage and why are other states looking to Michigan for lessons learned?

Then, it made news: the merger between financially struggling Albion High School and its neighbor, Marshall. Now, more than halfway through the school year, we checked in on how the students are faring.

And, a new report is breaking new ground in the study of inequality among our children, and the findings for Michigan children are troubling.

First on the show, another hugely surprising retirement from Congress. Republican Congressman Dave Camp, who represents Michigan's 4th district, announced that he will not run again for re-election. Camp has served in Congress for 24 years and has been chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, co-hosts of Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics, joined us today to talk about what’s next for Camp and what this means for Michigan in Congress.

Ann Arbor Public Schools / http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/academics/files/pre3.jpg

A newly released report is breaking new ground in the study of inequality among our children.

The report is from the Annie E. Casey Foundation for Kids Count. It's titled "Race for Results: building a path to opportunity for all children."

For the first time, it creates an index that looks at conditions for children by race.

Our next guest believes it contains troubling findings for Michigan children and the need for a major call to action.

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is project director of Kids Count in Michigan with the Michigan League for Public Policy, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus will perform Brundibar this weekend at the Detroit Opera House. The children's opera was originally performed in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. 

In the 1940s, European Jews were sent to Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. It was a transit camp where Jews were sent before being moved to other concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

The Nazis also used Theresienstadt in their propaganda efforts.

There's one attorney for every 21,000 low-income Michigan citizens. That's according to the Michigan Bar Association. And that lack of representation hits hard for relatives of children in the foster care system. State of Opportunity's Sarah Alvarez has been following the case of Vanessa Moss, a grandmother struggling financially to take care of four children. Faced with their removal from her home, where do people without resources turn for legal representation?

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A Flint substitute teacher is facing a variety of charges, including assault and battery, for allegedly duct taping the mouths of several elementary school students on several occasions last year.

A 15 count warrant was authorized on Wednesday.     The incidents allegedly occurred at Flint's Brownell Elementary School.   The unnamed teacher was fired by the Flint school district in December.

Flint city attorney Peter Bade says during the subsequent investigation, the teacher claimed that the school’s principal had placed duct tape on the teacher's mouth.

It's December. That means the airwaves are filled with Holly Jolly Christmases, White Christmases, Jingle Bell Rock and that ever-present Little Drummer Boy.

So, in the interest of public service, we thought we'd present a way for you to hear some fresh holiday music, performed by Michigan artists. The CD is called "A Michigan Christmas of Hope."

Holy Cross Children's Services will receive every penny of money raised from the CD. It's one of the largest private providers of specialized schools and children's services in Michigan.

Devin Scillian is best known as the anchor on WDIV-TV in Detroit. But, he's also built quite a following as a singer-songwriter. And, joining Devin is Russ Russell of Holy Cross Children's Services. 

Listen to the full interview above.

toshibatelecom / toshibatelecom

Michigan's economy may be slogging its way up the hill towards recovery, but life is not getting as good as it should for children in our state.

That's the takeaway from the latest Kids Count report.

Here to tell us more is Jane Zehnder-Merrell. She's the project director for Kids Count in Michigan, part of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Facebook

It seems the Great Recession--the lingering economic worries, the slow-poke recovery--all of that seems to have made people more hesitant than ever to take "the baby plunge."

U.S. births are at a record low. Last year saw 63 births per 1000 women. Put that into context. Around a century ago, that figure was 127 births per 1000 women.

So we are at the lowest birth rate since the government started tracking America's fertility.

And our next guest is not surprised.

Laura Scott is a life coach, she's the author of "Two Is Enough: A Couple's Guide to Living Childless By Choice." And she's the director of the "Childless by Choice Project."

Homeless
SamPac / creative commons

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has issued its annual Kids Count report on the well-being of children across the nation. In Michigan, the outline is a mixed bag, but overall Michigan is last among Great Lakes states for child well-being.

There were improvements in how well kids are doing in school, some improvements in the area of the health of kids and the number who have health insurance, but in every category of economic well-being, children in Michigan are in worse shape.

Patrick McCarthy is the President and Chief Executive author of Kids Count, and he joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Mistakes Kids Make

The State of Opportunity team found this short animation put together by a campaign called "Mistakes Kids Make."

The campaign is described as a "storytelling project to remind us that the mistakes we make as kids should not ruin the rest of our lives." It's funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

Take a look at the video here:

flickr user Southworth Sailor

Today, I reported for State of Opportunity on some alarming new statistics on child abuse and neglect in Michigan.

You can click here to get the full story.

There is some debate about how to interpret a few of the statistics in the story.

One of the things I discovered while reporting the story is that it's actually hard to get good numbers on abuse and neglect in Michigan.

The state Department of Human Services provides a monthly fact sheet that includes the number of cases that were investigated, and how many were confirmed. But the numbers only cover two months worth of reports, and there's no detail on the nature of the cases, or where they occurred.

The Michigan League for Public Policy worked with the DHS to publish some more detailed measures of abuse and neglect in the latest Kids Count report.

From my perspective, even this report leaves as many questions as answers. 

That said, the statistics we do have are cause enough for concern.

Here are four to keep in mind: 

Flickr user Amy the Nurse

It’s not uncommon for newborn babies to have an unclear gender. About one in 300 infants have a disorder of sex development (or DSD). That means babies have atypical sex chromosomes, atypical gonads, or atypical genitals.

For some parents, the experience can be overwhelming and in the past, shame and secrecy have been associated with the disorder.

A new University of Michigan survey finds most parents want stronger online protections for children under 13.

The poll shows two-thirds of parents say a federal law that protects children's privacy online should be expanded to include handheld devices.

“The hope is that this update of the federal rules can be combined with continuing or maybe even enhanced parent vigilance around what their kids are seeing and where their kids are going on the internet,” says Matt Davis, the director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

One woman's fight to end the cycle of poverty

Nov 7, 2012
Keisha Johnson

Economic mobility for Americans at the bottom of the income scale seems to be fading. Today more than 40 percent of children born into poverty stay in poverty as adults.

State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra profiles one woman trying hard to be on the right side of that statistic.

Fuscia Foot / flickr

Having lots of money does not make somebody a better parent, but a child with wealthy parents is more likely to go to college, and more likely to have economic opportunity once they become an adult.

If you are a low-income parent and you want your kids to be successful, the numbers are not on your side.

Lamanda Coulter

This week, Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity reporter delved into one of the uncomfortable truths of the Great Recession: that kids were among the hardest hit.

He writes that in 2010, one out of three kids in this country lived in a house where neither parent had full-time, year-round work. He says the recession affected everyone in America, rich and poor. But some groups were hit worse: people with no college degree, African-Americans and children.

Click here to follow Dwyer as he interviews parents feeling the effects of unemployment.

Check back in to the State of Opportunity website to read and listen to new stories every week.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Nearly a quarter of all kids in Michigan live in poverty. We want to believe these kids have an equal shot at success in life, but there’s a pile of research that suggests otherwise.

Costs of child-rearing
Expenditures on Children by Families / USDA

According to the 2011 Expenditures on Children by Families annual report released by the USDA today, raising a baby born in 2011 will cost a middle-class family about $234,900 in today's currency.

According to the report,

This represents a 3.5 percent increase from 2010. Expenses for transportation, child care, education, and food saw the largest percentage increases related to child rearing from 2010. There were smaller increases in housing, clothing, health care, and miscellaneous expenses on a child during the same period.

The report states that most of this money will fund the child’s housing, child care, education and food expenses through age 17, representing roughly 64 percent of all costs. As the study only follows children from birth through high school, costs associated with pregnancy and post-high school education are omitted from these numbers.

A little more than a year ago, there were four people in the Reynolds family. Today, there are three—parents Angela and Ryan Reynolds—and their four-year-old son, Tanner.                                                                               

Two weekends ago, I went to something called the Bow-Wow brunch, at an upscale hotel in suburban Detroit. The purpose was to raise money to support the Michigan Humane Society.

Kids in Poverty

Feb 23, 2012

Three hundred and forty-one thousand. That’s the number of children in our state living in what is officially known these days as “areas of concentrated poverty.” Our ancestors would have called where they lived “the worst slums.”

We are talking about homes that sometimes lack heat and light, that are surrounded by crack houses and other houses that have burned down, places where life is too often nasty, brutish and short.

Two-thirds of all children in Detroit live in such neighborhoods, streets like the one where a nine-month-old baby was killed by a bullet from an AK-47 assault rifle Monday.

But most poor children don’t live in Detroit. Some live in rural poverty, in Roscommon or Chippewa Counties up north, where alcoholism is high. Yes, a few of these children will escape, thanks to the efforts of a parent, teacher or mentor.

Somehow they will get a halfway decent education, a job and a better life, though that is becoming increasingly hard to do. But most won’t, just as most kids whose dreams are based on a basketball won’t make it to the NBA. Instead, the numbers of the desperately poor are swelling. According to a new report funded by the Annie E, Casey Foundation, there were a hundred and twenty-five thousand more poor kids in our state in twenty-ten than ten years earlier.

YouTube / indianapublicmedia.org

The Super Bowl this weekend in Indianapolis will attract thousands of football fans and people who like a big party.

It will also lure human traffickers who set up in hotels so paying clients can have sex - sometimes with children.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates 100,000 kids in this country between the ages of 12 and 14 are drawn into a life of prostitution every year.

There is an outreach effort trying to connect with teens trapped in that life.

Project SOAP is in Indianapolis this weekend.

It conducted a similar operation before the North American International Auto Show last month in Detroit.

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell dedicated his entire state of the city speech Saturday morning to highlighting the problems facing kids in the community. 

Heartwell noted nearly 2 in 5 children in Michigan's 2nd largest city live in poverty. More than 1 in 5 students in Grand Rapids Public Schools drops out of high school. Many don’t have regular access to the internet.

The other day I was on a panel with Nolan Finley, the editorial page editor of the Detroit News, talking about Michigan’s future.

We’ve done this a couple of times recently. I think some of the people who show up are looking for some sort of liberal-conservative food fight, and go away surprised that we are in as much agreement as we are over a lot of issues. Oh, there is a lot we disagree on.

Every week on What’s Working, we take a look at people and organizations that are changing lives in Michigan for the better. The Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center is targeting youth violence in Flint by getting kids involved in activities that improve their community.

Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES) is an after-school program run by the center that gives students the tools to initiate and manage community development projects. Today we speak with Susan Morrel-Samuels, the managing director of the Youth Violence Prevention Center at the University of Michigan, who tells us what’s unique about the YES program.

Governor Snyder wants us to get healthier. The Governor delivered a health address last week and part of his plan revolves around getting Michigan's kids healthier. During his speech, the Governor mentioned the "Safe Routes to Schools" initiative.

As part of our weekly "What's Working" series, we speak today with David Hornak, Principal of Horizon Elementary schools in Holt, Michigan. Hornak has enacted the "Safe Routes to Schools" program at his school.

New research from the University of Michigan reinforces why it’s important to keep kids from being exposed to lead.

It’s long been known that relatively high blood lead levels can negatively affect children’s IQ.

This study finds it can also affect a child’s motor skills.

Dr. Howard Hu, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan, studied children between the ages of three and seven in Chennai, India. Half the children studied had relatively high levels of lead in their blood. Those children tested significantly lower on motor skill tests… like using peg boards and copying pictures… than children with far less exposure to lead.

Dr. Hu says the Indian children’s blood lead levels are about two to three times that of American children. Lead is still a problem in Michigan, with children still being exposed to aging lead paint in homes, lead in pipes, and lead contamination in soil.

Pages