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Families & Community

The connections that build opportunity.

Judson Center Parent Partner Kim Young.
Reel Clever Films

As a parent, you want your kids to grow and develop into successful adults. Providing a stable and safe home is an important part of doing that.

But families aren’t the only ones who are responsible for making sure kids are growing up in a safe environment. 

front of house with mural
Justin Boyd / Courtesy of Yvette Rock

There has been a lot of discussion over the past five months about school closures in Michigan. In January, we explored what the history of school closings in Detroit have meant for both kids and neighborhoods in our documentary We Live Here.

The week before we aired the documentary, the state’s School Reform Office released a list of 38 schools that faced closure at the end of the school year because of persistently low test scores. 

Gompers Elementary-Middle School in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood was one of the schools on that list.

Jasmine Uqdah
Photo courtesy of Jasmine Uqdah

Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity team has spent a lot of time exploring foster care in Michigan and what happens once kids age out of the system.

Michigan is now one of the few states that gives young people the option to stay in foster care until they're 21.

But it wasn’t always that way. In most states, you age out when you're 18. That used to be the case in Michigan, too.

GOVERNORTOMWOLF / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

One of the biggest obstacles for low-income and poor families: child care and preschool. It's hard to get a job or go to classes when you have a 2-year-old on your hip.

Amanda Hood and family
Courtesy of Amanda Hood

 

Among the hundreds of stories produced by the State of Opportunity team was one about a Hillsdale family, Amanda and Mike Hood, and their two young daughters.

Their story put a spotlight on the challenges low-income families face in finding affordable child care and preschool. 

row of babies in hospital beds
Tamaki Sono / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Too many Michigan babies are dying.

For every 1,000 babies born in our state, roughly seven won't make it to their first birthday. That's a full point higher than the national infant mortality rate. When you break that down by race, the numbers are more disturbing.

Jen Guerra and child
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The State of Opportunity team began its work in 2012. Since then, they've produced hundreds of stories exploring the barriers to success that low-income kids and families in Michigan face.

Now, that important project is wrapping up.

A house for sale in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Don Norman settles into his chair, and pulls his blanket up to his chest. On the TV, Dick Van Dyke is about to solve a murder.

The room is warm, shades drawn. It’s a good old house. A bit of plaster is coming off the ceiling in the corner, but the house is neat. Every shelf is filled with pictures of family.

Don’s been here 40 years, he says. Ever since he and his wife got pushed out of their last home, when the hospital near them started an expansion and bulldozed their old block.

A photo of 10-year old Justice, aka "Batman"
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Week after week for five years, we’ve played the same clip at the start of every State of Opportunity story. You hear three kids telling us what they want to be when they grow up: a firefighter, a ballerina, and a Batman.

We’ve heard from countless listeners, friends, and even colleagues over the years. And they all want to know: where’s Batman now?

So, as my last story for State of Opportunity, I set out to track him down.

U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT

President Donald Trump said he wanted to go after “bad hombres,” but his immigration policies affect more than just those who are here and have committed crimes. Undocumented immigrants with no criminal history are also being deported. That's the case with a Michigan father of four who's been told he has to leave the country by the end of the month. 

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