Families & Community

The connections that build opportunity.

Military kids; stress, trauma and potential

Dec 19, 2012
Sarah Alvarez / Michigan Radio

I met up with a group of military wives at an empty VFW post in Lansing. Kimberly Sucheck is a charismatic brassy blond former cop called "Madea" by her teenager after the outsize Tyler Perry character.

Sucheck is a military wife. Her husband has been in the Army National Guard for well over a decade. She brought four other women with husbands in the military together so I could ask them about what it's like to raise kids when your life is entwined with the military.

Each of their husbands have at least two deployments under their belts. Some of their husbands are getting ready for another deployment to Afghanistan, including Kerri Gallagher. She has four children who have been through deployments before, but she said it’s still hard and confusing.

screenshot from video posted on whitehouse.gov

I know you don't want to read this any more than I want to write it.

The point of State of Opportunity is to talk about how we can improve life for our most vulnerable children.  We talk about education, we talk about health, we talk about public policy. We have not yet talked much about violence. I wish we didn't have to. 

What happened in Newtown is incomprehensible. We are left only with grief. 

And yet we know that what happened in Newtown is not rare. Mass shootings, we hear about all the time. Children victimized by violence, we try not to think about. 

But the sad reality is children are murdered every day in America. Consider these statistics, compiled from reports by the CDC and the Congressional Research Service

With poverty, hearing from experts is not enough

Dec 7, 2012
jjpacres / flickr

Lately it seems there have been a lot of documentaries on poverty. Or maybe I'm just finally paying attention.

FRONTLINE's Poor Kids follows three families who live between Iowa and Illinois. The majority of the documentary is told from a child's perspective. 

"There are good days and bad days." 

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 new documentary, 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:

Video streaming by Ustream

Photo courtesy of Keisha Johnson

When it comes to the “cycle of poverty,” the brutal truth is more than 40 percent of children raised in poverty stay in poverty as adults. Among those who make it out, most don’t make it very far. But I'm going to introduce you to one woman who is determined to buck the trend and climb the ladder out of poverty.

courtesy Kayla McQuesten

 Every parent knows that raising a child doesn't always go according to plan. Today we'll hear from a mom who's had to change her plans more than a few times to do what's best for her daughter. Click above to hear the story of Kayla McQuesten and her daughter Baya Foster, who live in Belmont. 

McQuesten also runs a Facebook group for Grand Rapids Area Moms

courtesy of the Local 432

Flint is a much maligned city. While there is plenty of good happening in the city it does have challenges that go far beyond an image problem.

Why we collect story ideas from readers

Oct 2, 2012

This week we're bringing you a story on a place teenagers in Flint go to listen to bands and find a sense of community.

This place landed on my radar not because I discovered it myself through exhaustive research, but because like a lot of the best stories-in-waiting, somebody told me about it.

Not all tips turn into stories, but many do, particularly for me.

Monica was 13 years old, and living in Georgia, when she found out she was pregnant.

As she got closer to being a mom, her relationship with her own mom got worse.

“I don’t know when it started," Monica says. "I mean, it started ever since I was pregnant.”

Monica says her mom moved the family to Grand Rapids to get her away from the baby’s father.

Her son Anthony was born in 2010, and Monica became one of the 11 thousand teens who becomes moms every year in Michigan. For a while, it worked. Monica went to school. Her mom watched Anthony during the day.

State of Opportunity wants sounds of growing up

Sep 19, 2012
Alan Connolly / flickr

Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity is looking for sounds and stories about raising babies and toddlers.

We’re looking for baby sounds, toddler sounds, and thoughts from parents about milestones and happy and proud moments.

If you've had a child who started out life in the NICU and is now thriving, or if you are just a typical worried parent that meets every achievement with a smile and a little sigh of relief.