2017-04-20 / News

Schoolcraft County ranks 39th in state for well-being of children

LANSING — Schoolcraft County ranked 39th for child wellbeing by county, according to the 2017 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book released by the Michigan League for Public Policy. Number one is the best in the state.

The Michigan League for Public Policy has been compiling and releasing the annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book for 25 years to analyze and evaluate the wellbeing of children in the state and its counties. The 2017 book primarily compares data from 2008 to 2015 and analyzes 15 key indicators across four domains.

The report also ranks 82 of the 83 counties for overall child wellbeing (Keweenaw County lacks sufficient data). The top three counties for child well-being are Ottawa (first), Clinton (second) and Oakland (third) counties, with each of these counties moving up one rank from last year. The bottom three counties in 2017 are Oceana (80th), Iosco (81st) and Lake (82nd).

“No Michigan child should be experiencing poverty, hunger, abuse or neglect, regardless of where they are born and grow up, their race or ethnicity, or their family’s economic standing,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Just as past policies and practices have created these disparities, using a racial equity lens and a two-generation approach to develop policy solutions can help resolve them. In order to have a vibrant state for us all, lawmakers need to make sure all kids in Michigan thrive.”

Comparing counties from 2008- 2015, 72 counties saw their child poverty rate increase, 79 counties saw an increase in the percent of kids receiving free and reducedprice lunch, and 58 counties saw the rate of confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect go up. For teen births, 71 counties saw their rate go down.

According to the report, historical and current public policies are adversely affecting Michigan kids’ ability to thrive and widening disparities in child wellbeing based on where a child lives, their race and ethnicity, and their family’s income. Statewide, more than one in five (22 percent)

Michigan children lived in poverty in 2015, a 15 percent rate increase since 2008, the last full year of the Great Recession.

But the rates are significantly worse for kids of color, with 47 percent of African-American kids and 30 percent of Latino kids living in poverty compared to 15 percent for White kids in 2015.

Nearly 28 percent of children in rural counties live in poverty, 24 percent in midsize counties and 22 percent in urban counties, although poverty increased at the highest rate for urban areas.

The 2017 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book’s key recommendations for policymakers to support parents and improve child well-being are:

• Promote comprehensive strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect, including the expansion of home visitation programs.

• Ensure access to affordable, quality child care by raising eligibility levels for state child care subsidies and reforming the current system.

• Increase funding for maternal smoking prevention and cessation programs and services.

• Provide sufficient funding for early interventions to improve third-grade reading using a birthto eight framework.

• “Raise the Age” of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old.

“The Michigan League for Public Policy has been fighting to protect Michigan kids since 1912, but child poverty is just as pressing now as it was then,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Too many Michigan families are working but barely making ends meet and are one financial emergency away from disaster. Simply having a job is not enough anymore, and we need stronger policies to support workers with low wages and their families.”

For additional information on the 2017 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, including the full report, state, county and regional rankings, charts and images, resources for advocates, frequently asked questions and county-specific press releases for 82 counties, go to http://www.mlpp.org/kidscount/ michigan-2/2017-kids-count-inmichigan data-book.

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