What it takes to raise successful kids

Aug 23, 2012
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.

This truth, complicated and as poorly understood as it is does demonstrate one thing. If you are a low-income parent and you want your kids to be successful, the numbers are not on your side.

flickr user CarbonNYC

Today, we’re going to dive into the bureaucracy.

This is the story of a state program that’s improved the lives of children in Michigan, and why that program is ending –  at least for now.

The story starts with a woman we're calling "Mary."

Mary’s husband brutally abused her for years.

A little over a year ago, she found the courage to escape. Her husband is behind bars, but she still fears what might happen if he ever gets out, so we’re not using her real name, or the names of her children.

Who decides which child health concerns matter most?

Aug 21, 2012
insipidlife / flickr

Doctors and public health professionals certainly have a lot to say about children's health, and parent's do too. But how do these concerns translate into policies or programs tasked with doing something to make kids healthier? Well-that's more of a free for all.

Every year, the University of Michigan's C. S. Mott Children's Hospital does a survey on childhood health concerns. They ask adults, both parents and non-parents alike, to state their health concerns for the children in their community. This year, lack of exercise was number one on the list of top-ten child health concerns.  Obesity and smoking rounded out the top three health concerns for kids.

But do these adults really know what the concerns for kids are? Certainly, there are a lot of kids who are not exercising regularly? About 50% of kids in Michigan do not exercise regularly, according to Kids Count, making it partly responsible for the rise in obesity (which stands around 30% for kids in the state). A lack of healthy food or even just eating school lunches are also partly to blame for obesity.

Paul Tough writes in this weekend's New York Times Magazine that President Obama hasn't exactly followed through on candidate Obama's plans for comprehensive, long-term programs to lift children out of poverty. Instead, Tough writes, Obama's administration has worked on poverty in "relatively small and uncoordinated ways."


Things have officially gotten ugly on the campaign trail. 

By now, you've heard the back and forth claims from the Romney and Obama camps. 

What's easy to forget is that all of this incendiary rhetoric came out of the usually-boring world of tax policy. The claim from the Obama camp is that Mitt Romney's tax plan would help rich people and businesses, while shifting more of a burden on low- and middle-income taxpayers. 

As I've written before, the claim has some merit. But it is far from the end of the story. 

Turns out, there is a conservative tax plan that would lower the burden on businesses and low-income families at the same time. It's just not getting any attention right now. 

Dustin Dwyer

It's no secret that pre-kindergarten education can have a profound impact on the future prospects of children - studies have shown it for decades. But in Michigan, and in the rest of the country, only about half of kids actually attend preschool. Plenty of parents want to send their kids to preschool, there just aren't enough classes available.

Here's a short video clip of journalist and author Paul Tough talking about his new book "How Children Succeed." We're planning a special call-in show with Tough next month. What questions do you have for him?

dnnya17 / flickr

Not surprisingly Congress can't agree on a tax cut plan: Republican's in the House passed one version,  Democrats in the Senate passed a different one.

Last week I offered up a quick summary of what the Republican plan for extending the Bush tax cuts would mean for two programs that have been shown to benefit low-income kids, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. There is much more to the debate than just these credits. A convincing case has been made for how these credits move families out of poverty so I think they are worthy of extra attention.

While Congress takes about five weeks off (paid vacation, really) to campaign, we have plenty of time to think about these tax policies. So, let's turn our attention to the plan being pushed by the Democrats.

Lamanda Coulter

In 2010, one out of three kids in this country lived in a house where neither parent had full-time, year-round work. That new figure comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count report.

It shows one of the uncomfortable truths of the Great Recession: that kids were among the hardest hit. 

Ronnie Coulter can’t tell you much about the recession. 


Last week, the Michigan Department of Education released its first state-wide report card on school progress since the state won a new waiver on requirements No Child Left Behind law. 

If you haven't been following the news, you might wonder why Michigan needed a waiver from No Child Left Behind in the first place. There are lots of reasons, really. But the most basic reason has to do with a requirement at the core of the act.