Child Poverty Ranking Pretty Dismal
For the second year running, Michigan has fallen behind another placement in the annual Kids Count report conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. We are now ranked at number 33 in the nation, well below average, in the overall child well being category, and specifically with regard to child poverty.
But what does that mean? Well, according to Alicia Guevara-Warren, the Kids Count Project Director for Michigan League for Public Policy, this is a clear indicator that Michigan is “losing ground, where other states are prospering”. Apparently Michigan families have not bounced back from the recession with the same speed as families in other states. In particular with regard to education.
Michigan’s lowest scores were on the education front. Although Guevara-Warren says that with the millions that the state has invested into education in recent years, we should see a turnaround on that soon. But poverty plays a huge role in how well a child is prepared to learn, and in that regard, Michigan is still struggling.
According to the survey results, the number of children in high-poverty neighborhoods has increased from 340,000 in the 2006 to 2010 range, to almost 400,000 in between 2009 to 2013. This is a substantial increase in the number of children living in poverty in our state. And while our struggling economy certainly plays a role, there are other factors as well.
Overall, Michigan ranked 23rd in the Health category, 29th for Family & Community, 33rd for Economic Well-Being and 37th for Education. Interestingly, the state that received the highest rankings this year was Minnesota. Apparently this is because of their high tax rates, giving the state a substantial cash flow for addressing concerns. Additionally, the decision to invest a great deal of that money into education and transportation, among other systems, aimed at improving the quality of life for their citizens.
On the up side, not everything in Michigan is headed down the tubes. The report showed that there has been improvement in health categories across the state. This includes decreases in the number of low birthweight babies born in Michigan, decreases in the number of children without any health insurance, a reduction in the number of teens who abuse alcohol or drugs, and reduced teen births.