State of Opportunity

Wednesday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

State of Opportunity is a special project produced by Michigan Radio with major financial support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The project features documentary reports, first-person storytelling, youth journalists, an online portal, and Michigan Radio’s Public Insight Network.

The goal is to expose the barriers children of low income families in Michigan face in achieving success.

Little boy
David Dennis / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The water crisis in Flint is ongoing. And it's been a while since we've talked about it here at State of Opportunity, so let's catch up.

In January, President Barack Obama issued an emergency declaration for Genesee County in response to conditions in the city.

Residents have been given water, water filters, and testing kits. Federal aid has been provided to supplement state and local efforts.

screenshot of Abbi's Facebook post

She first went into the system when she was five years old, she says.

She bounced around, like any of the thousands of kids in Michigan who go through foster care. So she waited, like everyone else waits. Many of them wait so long, they turn 18 in foster care, and they’re never adopted. They “age out.”

But her story took a different turn. 

It was this winter. January. Abbi was 15 years old. We’re just using her first name.

She was living in a group home, thinking of another year, another birthday without a family. She talked to her therapist about it.

Toddler blowing bubbles
AnneCN / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

In 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics pushed for all kids to be screened for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at their 18- and 24-month well child visit.

And according to a study released last week, ”Age of Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in an Ethnically Diverse Population Before and after the 2007 AAP Recommendation for Universal Screening,” kids with autism are now being diagnosed earlier, making it possible for them to be treated sooner.

Teen birth rates per 1,000 females aged 15-19
The Washington Post (Data from the CDC)

The number of teens having babies in the U.S. is at an all-time low.

Births to all teens have gone down more than 40 percent over the past decade, according to a new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control.

The rate hit a critical peak in 1991, at 61.8 births for every 1,000 adolescent females. In 2014, there were 24.2 births per 1,000 – the lowest rate ever recorded.

So what is driving this shift?

Homeless teen with backpack
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Bridge Magazine published a story Wednesday about barriers homeless college students in Michigan face while trying to pursue an education, and just how hard it can be for them to find help.

Especially when it comes to affording college.

As a college student myself, I can't imagine taking (and passing) classes, while having to worry about where I'm going to sleep and shower, and how I'm going to get my next meal.

flickr/thibaud_saintin

Michelle Gach’s son was taken from her home nearly two years ago, when he was three year old. Police took him after he was found alone in a park across the street from the family’s home.

A judge later terminated Gach’s parental rights. These terminations happen all the time in Michigan. They create a permanent, legal separation between parents and their children. And, once the decision to terminate is made, it’s rarely reversed in Michigan.

But that’s what happened last week in Michelle Gach’s case.

Based on hundreds of interviews with LGBTQ youth and families, the Family Acceptance Project codified a whole spectrum of rejecting and accepting behavior.
Family Acceptance Project

If you ask Cherish Blackmon about her gender, you won’t get a simple answer.

“Well, on the inside, I definitely identify my masculinity, but I also acknowledge my feminine on the outside because I know that God has given me the privilege to experience the opposite body of what I originally am in this lifetime," she said. "I feel like I’m both, but it feels like one.”

As for her sexual orientation, Blackmon says early on she knew she was attracted to women.

Taryn / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

UPDATED: 4/26/16 at 2:37 pm

Inconsolable crying. Difficulty feeding. Tremors. Tight muscle tone. Fever. Diarrhea.

These are among the miseries a newborn with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) may experience.

NAS describes the withdrawal process newborns endure after being exposed in the womb to opioids, like heroin, morphine, and oxycodone.

Teresa Qin / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Having a parent incarcerated is a stressful, traumatic experience of the same magnitude as abuse, domestic violence and divorce, according to a report released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Minority-owned businesses fuel growth in entrepreneurship

Apr 21, 2016
Cheriejoyful / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Last week I talked about Equal Pay Day and the dismal pay gap that exists between men and women.

Well, today I've got good news: The creation of new businesses is booming for minority entrepreneurs.

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