We think of scholarships as a way to help more students go to college. But there’s a new scholarship program in Michigan that has nothing to do with college. It offers scholarships to babies.
If you have a baby and you want to have a job, or you need to have a job, you have to find childcare. And childcare costs money—thousands of dollars a year.
If your income is below the federal government’s poverty line—about $24,000 a year for a family of four—the federal government will help you pay for childcare. But if you’re at, say, $28,000 a year, you’re ineligible.
As a child growing up in 1970's and '80s Grand Rapids, I had the opportunity to try many things: basketball, flute lessons, acting, and sewing, to name a few. This might account for my inability to stay in one place, doing one thing. You say, "flakey," I say, "rich and varied interests." But one of my long-standing interests was and continues to be public radio as a tool of informed citizenship.
The point is that these statistics all tell a story, and the story for kids in poverty is almost always bad. The latest report to confirm it is from the Michigan League for Public Policy (formerly known as the Michigan League for Human Services).
The League is the agency responsible for compiling Michigan's statistics for the annual Annie E. Casey Kids Count report. Kids Count offers one of the most comprehensive set of statistics on child well being. If you want to know how children are doing, particularly children in poverty, Kids Count will give you the answer.
That's how 12-year old Tyler Smith describes his life in Iowa, where he says he and his sister often go hungry because their mom doesn't make enough money to provide three meals a day for the family. "Sometimes when I switch the [TV] channel and there's a cooking show on," says Smith, "I get a little more hungry. I want to vanish into the screen and start eating the food."
Smith is one of six children featured in FRONTLINE's newdocumentary, Poor Kids. The film follows three families who live along the boarder of Iowa and Illinois, an area hit hard by the recession. The documentary airs on PBS next Tuesday, Nov. 21, but you can watch a sneak preview of the film in the video below. You can also listen to the panel discussion that follows, which features the film's director and poverty experts: