There are a number of state and federal programs to help poor and at-risk children develop and thrive. But funding is tight, and the programs can only serve a select number of kids at a time. That means life on the waiting list for many low-income parents and their children.
Let's meet one of those families.
Amanda and Mike Hood live in a modest, cottage-sized house in Hillsdale, about 30 minutes north of the Ohio border. They have two dogs, two ducks, four fish, and two little blonde daughters - 2 year old Gracie and 5 year old Emma.
Emma was born with a very rare disease called Congenital Central Hyperventilation Syndrome (CCHS). She was just 4.5 lbs when she was born, and required round-the-clock care. Her mom, Amanda Hood, had to put her life on hold to take care of her daughter. She dropped out of community college and quit her job as a bartender, which meant her husband was the only one bringing home a paycheck.
Last year Mike Hood pulled in about $32,000 as a certified heating and cooling repair man.
Now, $32,000 for a family of four isn’t exactly destitute; they make about $8,000 over the federal poverty line. But funds are tight, what with medical bills, a mortgage, and a night nurse for Emma. Not to mention all the money they have to pay for gas.
"We have to go to U of M, she’s got a neurologist, cardiologist, dentist, pulmonologist, gastroenterologist... and so we are constantly driving to U of M. It’s an hour-forty five minutes just to get there and an hour-forty-five to get back," says Emma's mom, Amanda Hood.
Being able to pay for something like preschool is a luxury they cannot afford.