7:29 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Obamacare under the radar: former foster youth can get free health insurance until age 26

Did you forget something? The part of the health care law that covers young people in foster care has gotten little to no attention.

Earlier this year there was an all-out advertising blitz aimed towards young people between the ages of 18 and 34, trying to get them to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

More than 6 hours of Obamacare commercials on YouTube? That smells like desperation.

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4:39 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

New documentary on growing up in poverty and pollution

Credit Geraint Rowland / Flickr

Reports about pollution and environmental degradation can easily seem like something that happens somewhere else.

And when the impact isn't visible on the surface, the health effects can go unchecked and be devastating for children.

In a new State of Opportunity documentary airing this Thursday, Michigan Radio's Lester Graham, looks at the impact of environmental pollution on children who live in poverty. 

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10:47 am
Mon April 21, 2014

CEO says Muskegon Heights district is $2 million in the hole to for-profit charter operator Mosaica Education

Lead in text: 
Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith has a big update this morning to her already award-winning coverage of the Muskegon Heights school district. If you haven't been following the story, Muskegon Heights was in such bad financial distress a few years ago, district officials took the unprecedented step of requesting a declaration of financial emergency from the state. The solution to the district's problems was to turn over operation of its schools to the for-profit charter company Mosaica Education. Smith has been documenting the bumpy transition ever since. The latest update comes from Mosaica CEO Mike Connelly, who tells Smith his company has poured millions into improving Muskegon Heights schools, but the district and the state have not come through on repayments.
The Muskegon Heights charter school district owes the company that's operating its schools a little more than $2 million. That's according to Mosaica
Families & Community
5:31 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

State of Opportunity special: Do we really have a plan for at-risk kids?

Jennifer White, Carl King and Zoe Clark prepare for a conversation about successful approaches to creating opportunity for at-risk youth.
Credit Michigan Radio

There's widespread recognition that education creates opportunity. But schools are often expected to provide much more than just education for kids struggling with poverty. So what are the effects of that expectation? Are kids getting watered-down educations and watered-down social services as schools struggle to do both? 

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Families & Community
12:49 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

As it turns out, it really does take a village to raise a child

Credit Gabi Menashe / Flickr

Well hello there! How have you been? It's been a while since my last post – three months, to be exact. I've been out on maternity leave and just got back to work and I have to say, I have a newfound respect for single parents.

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Families & Community
6:00 am
Wed April 16, 2014

How do you get a kid out of a bad situation? Start with one person who cares.

Portrait of a family that overcame obstacles. Jamie Alexander, second from right, credits her Grandma Bobbie Lee, far right, with stepping in to help raise the kids when her mom, third from right, struggled through addiction.
Credit courtesy Jamie Alexander

Stories on State of Opportunity are all about ways to help disadvantaged kids find success in life. But when you meet a successful adult who grew up disadvantaged, they have a story that is like many others.

They didn’t get where they are by accident. They worked hard, of course, but usually, they also had some help.  And often, that help can be traced back to one person who decided to make a difference.

Today, we're starting an occasional series about the people who make that decision. We’re calling this series, "One Person Who Cared."  To share your own "One Person Who Cared" story, click here

I met Jamie Alexander a couple of years ago. She’s a social worker for a program in Grand Rapids called Strong Beginnings, which helps African-American moms have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

But on the car ride to one of her client’s homes, Alexander told me her own story.

"My mom was a drug addict, an alcoholic," Alexander said. "And my dad was not around."

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Families & Community
3:35 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Call-in show: what's the best strategy to help at-risk youth?

Credit Vinoth Chandar / Flickr

This Thursday, we're shifting gears at State of Opportunity.

For our call-in show, we want to talk with you and our invited guests about ways to help at-risk kids break the cycle of poverty. 

People posting to our Facebook conversation so far have been adamant that schools and education are the way to give kids a better chance in life.


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2:23 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Tech & Opportunity: It's about more than iPads

Credit Bill Ferriter / for the love of learning

In the run-up to our call-in show for next week, we're looking for alternatives to schools as the solution for breaking the cycle of poverty for Michigan's children.

The point is not that education isn't the answer, but what haven't we tried?

Technology, as we've said before, has its costs and benefits. But when it comes to low-income kids and technology, the assumption is that no money equals no technology.

That assumption is wrong.

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Families & Community
11:41 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Schools as the default solution: The right move?

Credit Erin Nekervis / Flickr

For the rest of this week and next, we're preparing for our upcoming call-in show

We've focused a lot on schools and education because it's such a huge part of children's and parents' lives. After all, after age five, that's where kids spend most of their time and have formative experiences. 

But when it comes to answering the big questions, do we rely too much on schools? What solutions do we overlook when we put all our eggs in the education basket? 

One in four of Michigan's children lives in poverty conditions.

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8:23 am
Wed April 9, 2014

What kids with disabilities bring to the classroom

"He would bless our school."
Zak Rosen


Bentley loves people. He’s usually wearing a big smile.  He’s a joy. But his mother, Adrienne Crawford, admits he’s a lot of work, too.

“I took a three-minute shower" the other day,  says Crawford. "And I came back and his bedroom was covered in baby powder. I don’t know why he did it.  I guess it looks fun, just pouring white powder on the floor.”

Bentley has Down syndrome.

Shortly after he was born, Crawford remembers reading a book that forecast everything that could possibly go wrong in her young son’s life.

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