News Releases

Michigan income inequality 11th worst in nation, wealthiest 1% make 22 times more than rest of workers

For Immediate Release
July 26, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

New League analysis to examine income inequality, severe impact on women and workers of color

LANSING—Michigan has the 11th worst income gap in the nation according to a new fact sheet, Time to End Income Inequality, issued today by the Michigan League for Public Policy. The fact sheet shows that the top 1% of Michigan’s earners make 22 times more than the bottom 99%.

“Instead of moving Michigan forward, a majority of state policies have been pulling Michigan apart, most noticeably with the widening income gap,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, vice president of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “While our state’s economy has recovered for some, poverty is still a major issue for many others—including those with full-time jobs. We are all for financial success, but lawmakers must make sure our public policies are fair to all and helping those with the greatest need. Right now, they’re not.”

After relatively similar growth for all income levels for 30 years, the fact sheet shows that from 1979 to 2007, incomes for the top 1% of workers increased 100%—while the rest of workers experienced an income decline of .2%. That created a huge income gap in Michigan that continues today. The richest residents’ share of Michigan’s total income has also grown dramatically. In 1979, the top 1% of Michigan households held about 9% of the total income in the state. By 2013, the top group’s income share had nearly doubled to 17.9%, while the rest of Michigan residents saw their incomes decline.

Michigan women and people of color are particularly hurt by the gap, with Michigan ranking among the worst nationally in gender pay disparities. According to the most recent data, annual median earnings for full-time working women in Michigan are $12,738 less than men, with women making 74.6 cents on the dollar earned by men in 2014. The most recent wage data available by race shows that in 2012, workers of color made $3 less per hour than white workers, and that racial disparities are unrelated to a worker’s education. The League will be producing a series of fact sheets on income inequality to look at these issues closer.

“Income inequality is obviously a pocketbook issue, but low wages negatively affect workers and their families in so many ways,” Holcomb-Merrill said. “Low incomes hurt the financial standing of future generations. Lower-wage earners are also less likely to have employer-sponsored healthcare and paid sick and family leave, and have greater difficulty saving for their retirement or a child’s college education. Michigan’s kids, workers, neighborhoods and economy will all benefit from greater income equality.”

With the League’s focus on translating data into policy change, the fact sheet also outlines recommendations for state policymakers to reduce income inequality, including:

  • Further raising the minimum wage or eliminating the tipped wage;
  • Expanding access to high-quality child care;
  • Enacting earned paid leave policies;
  • Restoring Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 20% of the federal credit;
  • Expanding the Homestead Property Tax Credit;
  • Implementing a fairer income tax, such as a graduated income tax, and other equitable tax changes (Michigan’s lowest income earners pay nearly double the rate in total state and local taxes of the top 1%);
  • Improving K-12 education, especially for children at risk of educational failure;
  • Increasing adult education; and
  • Expanding access to post-secondary education.

The fact sheet utilizes national, state and local data recently released in a report by the Economic Policy Institute and Economic Analysis Research Network as well as income information from the Census’ American Community Survey and the National Equity Atlas.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Statement: 2017 budget includes big victories and missed opportunities

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the general omnibus budget bill signed by Governor Rick Snyder today. The League has also put together a full report analyzing the pros and cons of the 2017 budget, The 2017 State Budget Fails to Protect All Children and Families and Perpetuates Economic Disparities. The budget expands Healthy Kids Dental to all eligible kids in Kent, Oakland and Wayne counties, but failed to secure funding to fix the Heat and Eat policy that reduced federal support for many Michigan residents. By investing approximately $3 million in state funds, Michigan would have been able to draw down $140 million in federal dollars through Heat and Eat and restore approximately $76 per month in food assistance for 150,000 low-income households. The statement may be attributed to League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The 2017 budget contains a mixed bag, and our reviews are equally mixed. After years of fighting for dental coverage for all kids in need in all parts of the state, we are extremely happy that the budget signed today includes long-awaited funding to expand dental coverage to around 131,000 low-income kids in Wayne, Oakland and Kent counties. We have inched closer and closer to achieving this each year, and it’s heartening for us and the people we are fighting for to see that patience and persistence can pay off.

“Other budget areas continued to miss the mark, yet again overlooking the Michiganians with the greatest needs. At a time when revenues are tight, we were optimistic that all opportunities to secure federal match dollars would be pursued, especially with such a minimal state investment needed. However, the inaction to resolve Michigan’s Heat and Eat issue cost the state around $140 million in federal funding and cost 150,000 households in Michigan, including seniors and people with disabilities, even more—the very food on their tables. And while this budget included a moderate increase to Michigan’s child care subsidy, it included no corresponding state investment, causing us to also lose millions in federal child care dollars. Michigan’s recovery is still leaving too many people behind, and unfortunately, the 2017 budget did as well. We are hopeful that legislators will reconsider these missed opportunities and act quickly to remedy them through supplemental funding.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Michigan improves in overall child well-being, drops to 10th worst state in nation for education

For Immediate Release
June 21, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

National 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Michigan 31st in country for kids; state ranks high for children’s health, poor for education performance and poverty

LANSING—Michigan dropped to 40th in the nation for children’s education, according to the 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie. E. Casey Foundation. In Michigan, more than half of young children are not in preschool, 71 percent of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading, and 71 percent of eighth-graders are not proficient in math.

Michigan was ranked 31st overall in child well-being, up from 33rd in 2015. The state is still behind all other Great Lakes states: Minnesota (1st), Wisconsin (13th), Illinois (21st), Ohio (26th) and Indiana (30th).

The 2016 Data Book focuses on key trends in child well-being in the post-recession years, measuring child well-being at the national level and ranking states in four domains: economic well-being, education, health and family and community. For 2016, Michigan’s rankings were:

Overall: 31st (Up from 33rd in 2015)
Health: 14th (Up from 23rd in 2015)
Education: 40th (Down from 37th in 2015)
Economic Well-Being: 28th (Up from 33rd in 2015)
Family and Community: 29th (Ranked 29th in 2015 also)

“This data tells two different stories about Michigan kids—their health is improving thanks to a continued emphasis on policy changes, but education and poverty numbers continue to get worse without legislative action,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “As we measure ourselves against the rest of the nation, there is clearly much work to be done to offer better opportunities for our kids, and a big part of that is employing two-generation strategies to help improve the education and economic standing of their parents.”

Despite rising employment numbers and a so-called economic recovery in Michigan, 23 percent of children lived in poverty in 2014, which is higher than the national percentage and an increase since 2008. Almost 1 in 3 children, or 711,000 kids, live in families where no member of the household has full-time, year-round employment. This also worsened since 2008. While some are feeling relief post-Great Recession, the recovery has been uneven with low-income residents and people of color still struggling to make ends meet.

“From lead poisoning in Flint and the struggles in Detroit schools to the rampant poverty in our rural areas, Michigan policymakers need to make significant changes to better serve our kids,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We already have legislation introduced in Michigan to improve access to early childhood education and improve third-grade reading, but we’re still doing poorly in those areas while these bills languish. Our kids can’t wait, and policymakers shouldn’t, either.”

While navigating their own family challenges, an increasing number of our young people are also growing up in neighborhoods that lack the resources and support services they need to thrive. Since 2006-2010, the percent of children living in high-poverty areas in Michigan increased to 17 percent, up from 14 percent. Only six states have a higher rate of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods. The percent of children living in poverty (23 percent) and whose parents lack secure employment (32 percent) both worsened over the last year.

Our country’s legacy of racial inequity means that children of color continue to face significant barriers to their success, and the data book numbers illustrate how bad these disparities have gotten. Children of color in Michigan are more likely to live in high-poverty areas, including 18 percent of American Indian, 55 percent of African-American and 30 percent of Latino children. Child poverty is also higher for kids of color (47 percent for African-Americans and 32 percent for Hispanics compared to 16 percent for White kids).

“With rising higher education costs, stagnant wages and a flimsy social safety net, teens are less likely than their parents or grandparents to obtain economic security,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “For the sake of our economy and our society, we must reverse this trend to ensure that today’s youth—who will be the next generation of workers, parents and community leaders—have a successful transition to adulthood and beyond.”

Looking at Michigan’s poor academic numbers, they, too, are dramatically worse for kids of color. In 2015, for fourth-grade reading, 91 percent of African-American kids and 83 percent of Hispanic kids were not proficient, compared to 68 percent of White students. For eighth-grade math, 95 percent of African-Americans and 82 percent of Hispanic students were not proficient, compared to 66 percent of White students.

In the Data Book, the Casey Foundation offers a number of recommendations for how policymakers can ensure all children are prepared for the future, based on this country’s shared values of opportunity, responsibility and security. For Michigan specifically, the Michigan League for Public Policy makes the following policy recommendations to improve Michigan’s child well-being, and in turn, national stature:

  • Invest in communities to create safe neighborhoods, clean air and water, quality schools and adequate police and fire services;
  • Strengthen policies that support work, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, earned paid sick leave and workforce development opportunities;
  • Promote comprehensive strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect, including providing mental health and substance abuse services for parents;
  • Ensure access to affordable, quality child care; and
  • Adequately fund public schools, targeting resources in high-need areas and providing early interventions and services.

The Casey Foundation’s 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book is the national counterpoint to the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book the Michigan League for Public Policy releases each year. The national Data Book looks at national data and compares information and makes rankings for each state. The Michigan Data Book has state-level data and county-by-county data and rankings. The two reports work in concert to annually illustrate where child well-being stands in America, Michigan and in each county.

The 2016 Data Book is available at www.aecf.org. Additional information is available at http://datacenter.kidscount.org/publications, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being. The Data Center at http://datacenter.kidscount.org allows users to create rankings, maps and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and to view real-time information on mobile devices.

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The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Battle Creek Community Foundation, Fetzer Institute and Kalamazoo Community Foundation. More state and local data are available at the Kids Count Data Center, www.datacenter.kidscount.org.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For more information, visit www.aecf.org.

Nearly half a million Michigan kids in need still missing out on summer meals

For Immediate Release
June 14, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Report shows massive outreach needed to feed hungry kids, secure millions in federal funding

LANSING—Only about 1 in 8 low-income children in Michigan who need summer meals is accessing them according to a national report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, released today by the Food Research & Action Center. In July 2015, 484,502 Michigan students who were eligible for the free or reduced-price meal program during the school year did not access the summer meals program. For the state, 70,286 low-income children received summer meals, a decrease of seven percent from the previous summer.

“We want to see a reversal of this trend and make sure that the kids in Michigan who need these meals are eating them,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “With child poverty still significantly high in Michigan, policymakers need to increase their efforts to promote and raise awareness of the Summer Nutrition Programs and work harder to reduce poverty for nearly half a million Michigan kids.”

The report is an annual analysis of data that measures the success of Summer Nutrition Programs at the national and state levels by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving free or reduced-price school lunches during the regular school year. The school lunch data are a good proxy number for the extent of need in each state. By this measure, nearly 13 low-income children in Michigan ate summer meals for every 100 who ate school lunch during the regular school year. Nationally, the ratio was 15.8 kids per 100, down from last year’s ratio of 16.2 kids per 100.

Michigan’s summer nutrition participation rate for 2015 ranked 35th nationally, a drop four spots from its 2014 national ranking. At the same time that Michigan’s summer food participation rates declined, the number of Summer Food Service Program sponsors and sites both increased.

“Free and reduced-price school lunches and free summer meals are an important tool to help feed hungry kids, but the significant drop off after school’s out is alarming,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The number of kids in Michigan who need summer meals should be going down, not the number of children who need them and are not accessing them, and we need to work collaboratively at the local, state and federal level to address that. The programs are in place to provide these meals and significant federal funding is available—we just need to do more to inform kids, families and communities.”

There is still much room for improvement in Michigan. Low participation means missed meals for children and missed dollars for the state. If Michigan had reached 40 children with summer food for every 100 low-income children who get school lunch during the regular school year, Michigan would have fed an additional 151,629 low-income children every day in July 2015 and brought in $11,967,313 more federal dollars to do so.

“Greater participation in summer food means more low-income children get the fuel they need to thrive over the summer months,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “That reduces hunger, boosts health, reduces obesity and keeps children primed to learn. Congress can better meet the need through the pending Child Nutrition Reauthorization by making strategic and thoughtful investments in the Summer Nutrition Programs that bolster their capacity to serve even more children.”

The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program in the summer months, should be filling the food gap for the thousands of low-income Michigan children who rely on school breakfast and lunch during the school year to help keep hunger at bay. These programs provide free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies and nonprofits for children under 18. Not only do children benefit from the free meals, but they also benefit from the enrichment activities that keep them learning and engaged. The best way to meet children’s needs over the summer is with healthy meals that are served in positive community environments while the children’s parents are working.

Additional information on child poverty and the number of kids eligible for free or reduced-price lunch during the school year, including county-specific data, can be found here: http://www.mlpp.org/kids-count/michigan-2/mi-data-book-2016.

Michigan families can find nearby summer meal sites here or by calling 517-373-3347.

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About the report: Data for Michigan come from the June 2016 version of the annual report released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. The FRAC report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, gives 2014 and 2015 data for every state and looks at national and state trends. FRAC measures summer participation during the month of July, when typically almost all children are out of school throughout the month and lose access to regular school year meals. The report is available online at www.frac.org.

The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) is the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. For more information, visit www.frac.org.

The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Statement: DHHS budget provides long-awaited dental care for kids, but hurts food assistance and federal dollars

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget bill, House Bill 5274, that was reported out of conference committee today. The DHHS budget was a primary focus for the League’s advocacy efforts on the budget to better support Michigan’s struggling families, including the expansion of Healthy Kids Dental to all eligible kids in Kent, Oakland and Wayne counties and funding to fix the Heat and Eat policy that reduced federal support for many Michigan residents. By investing approximately $3 million in state funds, Michigan would have been able to draw down $140 million in federal dollars through Heat and Eat and restore approximately $76 per month in food assistance for 150,000 low-income households. The statement may be attributed to League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The DHHS budget has the greatest impact on Michigan families in need, but that unfortunately means it often faces the biggest cuts, especially amidst the state’s revenue challenges. We are very pleased to see that the budget passed today includes long-awaited money to expand dental coverage to around 131,000 low-income kids in three of our biggest counties, an effort that we have been fighting for for years.

“Unfortunately, not all of today’s news is good. Around 150,000 households in Michigan, including seniors and people with disabilities, will have less food on their tables because of the committee’s inaction on Heat and Eat. And the state will miss out on around $140 million in federal funding because legislators weren’t willing to leverage $3 million in state money, a major missed opportunity. We had also hoped to see adult dental coverage included in the budget. It’s disappointing that legislators couldn’t find the funding for a policy like Heat and Eat that helps families and makes fiscal sense, but we will keep working on these efforts to better help all of our residents, especially those struggling to make ends meet.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

 

League CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs named one of “100 Most Influential Women in Michigan”

LANSING — Crain’s Detroit Business announced today that Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs was named to their list of the 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan for 2016. Jacobs has dedicated her life to helping others, working as a special education teacher, helping persons with developmental disabilities, and serving in local government and as a legislator for 12 years before taking the helm of the League in 2011.

“Gilda would be the first to say that she cares more about helping others than getting individual awards, but that’s what makes this honor by Crain’s so special,” said League Vice President  Karen Holcomb-Merrill. “In our work at the League, we seek to bring a voice to those who are too often overlooked in Michigan, especially during public policy discussions. Being named one of the state’s most influential people is a testament to Gilda’s hard work and passion, and her effectiveness in bringing the needs of all Michiganians to the attention of policymakers. We are very proud to have Gilda on this list and are grateful for all of these great women and what they’re doing to better our state.”

Last year, Jacobs was also honored by the Food Bank Council of Michigan as a recipient of the Food Bank Council’s Hunger-Free Michigan Award, which was presented to her by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Food Bank Council of Michigan Executive Director Phillip Knight. The Hunger-Free Michigan Award goes to individuals and organizations in Michigan who are working to eliminate hunger and poverty in Michigan. As head of the League, Jacobs has had a strong record of working to pass state policies that promote and protect vital safety net programs and help get food and support to those who are struggling.

The League is dedicated to helping Michigan’s economically vulnerable residents, especially children, including advocating on the state budget, speaking out on the Flint water crisis and Michigan’s cities in crisis, and addressing a variety of other important policy issues. More information on the League, including Jacobs’ full bio, can be found at www.mlpp.org.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Expanding overtime will help more Michigan workers make ends meet

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on today’s federal rule change expanding the eligibility for overtime of salaried works. The League wrote a blog on this issue when it was announced last summer: www.mlpp.org/overtime-rules-just-got-better. The League also compiles a report entitled Making Ends Meet that lists the salaries that  different workers need to make ends meet by county, and also provides a calculator. The statement may be attributed to League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“Our focus at the Michigan League for Public Policy is to ensure economic security and well-being for all, and this important change to overtime rules at the federal level will do just that. Right now, low-wage salaried workers who are only earning a few thousand dollars more than the poverty level are ineligible for overtime. At the same time, many lower-paying industries like food service and retail are often the same ones where workers’ weekly hours regularly exceed 40. For too many workers in too many fields, working more than 40 hours a week has become the expectation, not the exception, and with no additional pay. People work to make a living, but too many people with full-time jobs are still struggling to get by. This rule change will improve worker pay and enable more people to better support their families, reducing the number of working people who are still depending on government assistance to get by.

“For 2014, we calculated that a single parent in Michigan with two kids needs to earn a salary of $44,164 to make ends meet and cover their food, housing, healthcare, child care, transportation and other costs. In Michigan, households with two working parents and two small children have to collectively earn over $52,000 annually. The more than 100,000 Michigan workers who would be affected by this overtime change are the people who are working but still barely getting by. I am glad to see President Obama take this action.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Low revenues stress need to help struggling Michiganians, review billions in tax expenditures

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on lower state revenue estimates announced at today’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. The League also released a report today, Review Tax Expenditures to Help Fix Michigan’s Broken Revenue Stream, offering a solution to the state’s money woes. The League’s budget priorities, including expanding child care assistance, can be found at www.mlpp.org/state-budget. The statement may be attributed to League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“These numbers are down in large part because people are still struggling and not spending, and today’s estimates underscore the need to help lift up more workers and families to boost our economy. In the coming weeks, the League urges legislators to help residents and stretch state dollars by leveraging federal funds in the 2017 budget. By continuing the House’s commitment to resolve the Heat and Eat issue with an investment of $3.2 million in state funds, we can bring in $138 million in federal dollars to help 150,000 households. Additionally, increasing the income eligibility for child care subsidies—at essentially no state cost—will help low-wage families with young children find and keep jobs. While the budget numbers are lower, the priorities should be the same, and I hope no lawmaker uses this news as a justification to turn their backs on the children of Flint, Detroit and communities around the state.

“This fiscal instability also demands a longer view of our state budget and revenue streams. Our new report released today shows that the state currently spends around $35 billion in state and local tax breaks each year, and a majority are written into law for perpetuity without ever being revisited. By reviewing and evaluating these tax expenditures and eliminating outdated and ones that no longer serve the public good, legislators could immediately and substantially resolve our state revenue issues.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

 

Statement: League applauds legislative action to support justice-involved kids, improve rehabilitation

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement in praise of the Michigan House of Representatives’ bipartisan passage of “raise the age” legislation to treat justice-involved 17-year-olds as juveniles, in sentencing, treatment and services, and placement. The League has been a strong advocate for this legislation and the positive impact it will have on Michigan youth and their futures. The League will continue to advocate for other prison reforms, issuing a report on Monday that noted Michigan has one of the highest rates of kids with incarcerated parents in the country. The statement may be attributed to League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill.

“The League is extremely pleased to see action on this important legislation today to stop treating all justice-involved 17-year-olds as adults. Sentencing kids as adults—especially nonviolent or first-time offenders—greatly harms their chance at rehabilitation. Treating these kids like adults makes them 34 percent more likely to reoffend, and having a prison record is detrimental to their future education, employment, housing and relationships. These are impressionable, still-developing kids and will rightfully be treated as such, getting the age-appropriate treatment that we know is effective and will improve their long-term outcomes.

“Michigan was one of the few states in the country that had yet to tackle this issue, and we appreciate the House’s recognition of the importance of it today. We want to thank Representative Santana for his leadership on this issue, the bill sponsors, Representative Heise and members of the House Criminal Justice Committee, and Speaker Cotter for their commitment, and the many other organizations who we have worked alongside to see this legislation passed. We urge the Senate to continue this bipartisan momentum and act swiftly to better protect Michigan’s kids.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

New report shows Michigan has third highest percentage nationally of children with a parent who has been incarcerated, 1 in 10 kids impacted

For Immediate Release
Monday, April 25, 2016

Contact:
Alex Rossman or Alicia Guevara Warren
517.487.5436
arossman@mlpp.org or aliciagw@mlpp.org

 

More than 5.1 million U.S. children and 228,000 children in Michigan have had a parent who served time

LANSING, MICH.–A new report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation today revealed that 228,000 children in Michigan, or 1 in 10 children, have had a parent incarcerated, out of more than 5 million nationally. Only Indiana and Kentucky have a higher percentage.

According to the report, A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families and Communities, Michigan has the fifth largest population of kids who have had a parent incarcerated, behind California (503,000), Texas (477,000), Florida (312,000) and Ohio (271,000).

According to the report, incarceration continues to devastate families of color in particular, as African-American kids are seven times more likely and Latino kids are three times more likely to have a parent incarcerated than their white peers. Research shows that having an incarcerated parent can have as much impact on a child’s well-being as abuse or domestic violence.

“For too long, Michigan’s outdated corrections policies have been hurting our economy and our state budget and this report shows that they’re doing the same to our families and kids,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Having an incarcerated parent past or present is a traumatic experience that can lead to increased poverty, stress and unstable environments, affecting kids’ health and academic performance.”

While Michigan spends heavily on corrections, including more than it spends on higher education, few resources exist to support family members left behind. Although the issue of mass incarceration has received more attention from policymakers, advocates and activists recently, the needs of children who face increased risks and significant obstacles in life are usually overlooked.

“Having a parent in prison causes economic, social and personal strife for kids and there are currently little to no efforts to address this,” said Mary King, executive director for the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency. “There are more than a quarter of a million kids struggling with an incarcerated parent in Michigan, and that number is too high for them to continue to be disregarded. We have to address this issue from both sides—working to pass reforms to reduce incarceration in the first place, and addressing the necessary supports to help these kids through difficult times and connect their parents with the proper job and education training assistance upon their return.”

The report’s three policy recommendations are:

  1. Ensure children are supported while parents are incarcerated and after they return.
  2. Connect parents who have returned to the community with pathways to employment.
  3. Strengthen communities, particularly those disproportionately affected by incarceration and reentry, to promote family stability and opportunity

“When people are sent to prison and taken away from their families, their kids are being punished, too,” said Guevara Warren. “There are many alternatives to incarceration that will better serve the individuals and their kids, but too many policymakers are more concerned with optics than logic.”

The report also reiterates the need for Michigan policymakers to tackle the following:

  • Direct more funds toward prison education and training for in-demand jobs for incarcerated individuals.
  • Minimize the negative effects of a criminal record once a parent has successfully reentered society through “ban the box” policies.
  • Facilitate access for affected families to financial, legal, child care and housing assistance.
  • Enable families impacted by incarceration to access Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs to cover basic needs and become self-sufficient, including revisiting the state’s limitations on assistance for certain convicted drug felons.
  • Provide incentives to housing authorities and private landlords to allow people with criminal records to access safe, affordable housing.

“Our nation’s overreliance on incarceration has left millions of children poorer, less stable and emotionally cut off from the most important relationship of their young lives,” says Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “We are calling on states and communities to act now, so that these kids—like all kids—have equal opportunity and a fair chance for the bright future they deserve.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For more information, visit www.aecf.org.

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