The kids are not all right

Whatever economic recovery has occurred in Michigan, it has not reached children and their families. Poverty continues to affect one of every four of the state’s youngsters. Over half a million of the children in Michigan lived in families with income below the federal poverty level ($18,000 for a single parent family of 3 and $22,000 for a family of four), according to this year’s annual Kids Count in Michigan overview of child well-being.

Economic security weakened in almost every county between 2005 and 2011, and the more affluent counties experienced the steepest increases: Oakland, Ottawa and Macomb counties saw their child poverty rates almost double over the trend period. (more…)

The Detroit News: Michigan report shows a 7-year, 53% hike in child food assistance

Michigan experienced a 53 percent increase in the rate of young children who qualified for federal food assistance between 2005 and 2012, according to a study on child health released today.

The annual Kids Count in Michigan report found more than 1 in every 3 children (37 percent) qualified for nutritional help because their families were living on less than $31,000 a year for a two-parent, two-child family. Dec. 17, 2013 — The Detroit News

Lansing State Journal: Kids Count report: Mid-Michigan kids are more likely to live in poverty today

Kids in mid-Michigan are more likely to live in poverty today than in 2005, according to the annual Kids Count report. They’re also more likely to live in families investigated for abuse or neglect.

“It isn’t just the economy that is bringing about the situation we see. It’s also state and federal policy,” said Jane Zehnder-Merrell of the Michigan League for Public Policy and director of Kids Count in Michigan. The annual report tracks indicators of well-being for kids and teens in the state. Dec. 17, 2013 — Lansing State Journal

MLive: Kids Count: Child poverty in Michigan increasing, teen pregnancy on the decline

The percentage of Michigan children receiving food assistance and free or reduced school lunches has increased since 2005, but teen pregnancy rates are on the decline, according to the latest data from Kids Count.

The number of children living in poverty increased even as the state’s overall child population decreased since 2005, the report released today stated. Media outlets were provided access to the report prior to its public release. Dec. 17, 2013 — MLive

Kids Count in Michigan 2013

Contact: Judy Putnam or Jane Zehnder-Merrell at (517) 487-5436
Full report at:
Resources for reporters (additional quotes, graphics and images): 
Video and Infographic

Family income erodes, child abuse and neglect rises
Kids Count report seeks to improve child well-being in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. – More kids in Michigan are growing up in families struggling to make ends meet and more are suffering from abuse and neglect, according to the 2013 Kids Count in Michigan report, which also offers clear recommendations for a brighter future for those children.

Statewide, the most dramatic change was a 53 percent increase in the rate of young children who qualified for federal food assistance between 2005 and 2012. More than one in every three (37 percent) qualified for nutritional help because their families were living on incomes under 130 percent of poverty or less (about $31,000 a year for a two-parent, two-child family).

“Though the recession officially ended years ago, the toll on children is still apparent with the persistently high number of children living in need. It’s especially troubling that young children are growing up in poverty because research shows a deeper lifelong impact of deprivation during early childhood,’’ said Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count in Michigan director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. (more…)

Kids Count graphics and images

Resources for reporters

Covering the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book release Dec. 17, 2013?

Thank you for your interest in children in Michigan.

Here are some resources to help you with your reporting. Don’t see what you need? Call Judy Putnam or Jane Zehnder-Merrell at the Michigan League for Public Policy at 517.487.5436.

Report in PDF | Statewide news release | County news releases (click on map) | Photos and graphics

Additional quotes responding to the report below:


United Way for Southeastern Michigan

“Improving conditions for children and families is critical to United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s goal of making Greater Detroit one of the best places in the nation to live and work.  United Way supports the work of Kids Count, a project to compile data on the status of children and youth throughout Michigan.  Let’s join forces with Kids Count to pinpoint the most critical needs and improve the lives of all of our children.”

Michael J. Brennan, President & CEO
United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Community Economic Development Association of Michigan

“Making sure families receive all of the tax credits for which they qualify is one of the most important things we can do to improve the financial situation of children living in low-income families. Between free income tax preparation services which save Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars every year and tax credits like the EITC and Child Tax Credit that return more than $2 billion in tax relief to low-wage workers, we can keep thousand of Michigan children out of poverty. These are the most impactful polices we have to help fight poverty.”

Ross H. Yednock, program director of the Michigan Economic Impact Coalition at the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan

Contact Ross at 517.485.3588 or

School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan

“While births to teens continue to decline, the fact that poverty has increased means that more children are born into and remain in poverty throughout their lives. It is imperative that we understand the intersection between poverty, health and education. The Kids Count Databook highlights the importance of access to preventative health care, improving test scores and graduation rates, and reducing child and adolescent deaths and accidents as a means to reduce poverty and promote economic stability throughout a child’s life course to adulthood.”

Michele Strasz, executive director, School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan

Contact Michele at 517.908.0847, ext. 229  or

Delta Dental

“Delta Dental supports the expansion of Michigan’s Healthy Kids Dental (HKD) program to the five remaining counties in an ongoing effort to improve the oral health and well-being of all of Michigan’s children. Tooth decay is the country’s most common chronic childhood disease and in Michigan, one in four third-grade children have untreated dental disease. By expanding HKD to every county in the state, more children will be able to get the dental care they need in order to maintain good oral and overall health.”

Lu Battaglieri, senior vice president and chief relationship officer of Delta Dental of Michigan, which administers the program

Lu’s phone is: 517-347-5214 and email is

Lu Battaglieri

Early Childhood Investment Corp.

“The latest KIDSCOUNT data reveals a mix of successes and nagging challenges for programs and policies aimed at helping Michigan’s children and families.  As community members we should all be concerned that the numbers of young children living in our state are shrinking while at the same time  child poverty rates are growing.  We know that a combination of high quality early childhood care and education programs and a mix of economic and social supports for families can mitigate the negative impacts of living in poverty on children’s cognitive, social, physical and emotional development.”

Marijata Daniel-Echols, CEO, Early Childhood Investment Corp.

Contact Marijata at 517-371-9000


Michigan Consumers for Healthcare

“This year we have witnessed the start of an ongoing process that will result in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The law continues to encourage and allow children to continue to be healthy and active by promoting preventative care. We are already seeing the ACA impact children with the fact that now in 2013, insurance companies can no longer drop children when they become ill. The ACA also has eliminated many fiscal obstacles that prevent parents from proactively seeking care for their child.”

Don Hazaert, executive director, Michigan Consumers for Healthcare

Don Hazaert


Daily Tax Report: Ex-State Treasurer: Michigan’s System for Funding Municipalities Is ‘Broken’

Dec. 9 — Michigan’s system for aiding municipalities is “broken,” as evidenced by Detroit’s bankruptcy filing and the fact that 17 units of government are currently operating under emergency managers, said Bob Kleine, who served as the state’s treasurer from 2006 to 2010. Daily Tax Report

Unemployment drama redux

It is December again. Along with the annual holiday season comes what is beginning to feel like an annual drama: Congress approaching year’s end without reauthorizing long-term Unemployment Insurance benefits.

If Congress does not reauthorize Emergency Unemployment Compensation, up to 189,700 Michigan workers could lose benefits as they continue to look for jobs: 43,800 immediately, an additional 86,500 if their unemployment goes beyond 20 weeks before June 2014, and 59,400 more if they go beyond 20 weeks between July and December 2014. (more…)

A gift for the future

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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 The holidays are upon us, and I’d like to offer Michigan the gift that keeps on giving – 10 ways to invest in our future.

The generations that came before us knew what it took to build a Mighty Mac, freeways and strong universities. Yet today, when you hear about economic development, you often hear about tax cuts, not investments. We can’t cut our way to prosperity. We simply must pay it forward for future generations and give them the investments they need for a strong economy.

A recent report by Senior Policy Analyst Pat Sorenson offers 10 ways to invest in our economy. It’s the League’s gift for the future:

In early childhood.
2. Make sure all kids get
a great education – and a diploma!
3. Make college affordable 4. Encourage good health
with access to physical and mental health treatment 5. Offer help
with basic needs to those who cannot work or who cannot find
a job. 6. Invest in community services to attract businesses and young
professionals. 7. Generate revenue by strengthening the personal income tax,
based on the ability to pay. 8. Make sure businesses pay their fair share 9. Bring sales tax
into the modern age by taxing services and Internet sales. 10. End ineffective tax breaks
and put funds
into what works.

Happy holidays, and make sure to sign up for our Dec. 9 policy forum!

— Gilda Z. Jacobs

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