STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

If you think poverty is rare for kids in Michigan, or its effects aren't serious, you're wrong.

Michigan League for Public Policy

We post about alotofreports on this site. We use a lotofstatistics. Not sure if you noticed. 

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.

And the answer in the latest Michigan Kids Count report is that children are not doing great. 

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the report is that child poverty is not rare in Michigan. We've reported many times that almost a quarter of Michigan's kids live in homes that meet the federal poverty threshold. That threshold is at about $23,000 per year for a family of four. 

Children who live in these homes are more likely to have all kinds of problems, from trouble at school, to obesity, to teen pregnancy. 

537,003 children in Michigan are in this situation. It is not rare. 

The other indicators in the Kids Count report confirm why the problem can't be ignored: 

  • 81 percent of fourth graders from low income homes were not proficient in reading, compared to only 47 percent from higher income homes. 
  • 33,000 children in Michigan were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect. The League reports that, "over 80 percent of cases involved neglect—often a byproduct of the family’s poverty."
  • Nearly a third of babies born in Michigan in 2011 were born to mothers who did not receive adequate prenatal care. Lack of prenatal care can lead to health problemsdown the road. 
  • The problems of child poverty are not limited to a few troubled cities. The three counties that had the worst outcomes according to the Kids Count indicators were Lake, Roscommon and Clare. 

You can read the full report for a more complete picture. Or you can read any report anywhere. 
The evidence comes in again and again. Things are not going well for many children in Michigan. 

Dustin Dwyer is a reporter on the State of Opportunity project, based in Grand Rapids. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.