Join us October 26th for Public Policy Forum

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Just like assets or heirlooms, economic disadvantages are often passed down from generation to generation. And we need your help to change that.

A recent report on the state budget by the League shows that children born into poverty immediately start out behind and spend the rest of their lives playing catch-up. They have limited early education opportunities when the brain is at one of its highest stages of development. These kids have trouble ever overcoming that gap, with problems in fourth-grade reading proficiency. Not surprisingly, they are also less likely to finish high school or attend postsecondary school, and without a degree or training, they end up with lower-paying jobs themselves.

While these numbers are disheartening, they are a clear call for change in our approach. For decades, Michigan has tried to support low-income parents and their children through separate policies and programs, but the statistics show not much headway is being made.

But there’s a new policy strategy in two-generation approaches to help support low-income parents today and build a brighter future for their kids tomorrow. Research shows that two-generation programs and policies can effectively help the two generations make progress together. It’s a win-win for children, their families and the state.

As people who care about Michigan children and families and the direction of our state, we want you to be a part of the conversation.

You are invited to join us on Monday, October 26th in Lansing for our free public policy forum, “Secure Parents and Successful Kids: A two-generation approach to tackling poverty.” We will have state and national experts all in one room to discuss a two-generation approach to reduce poverty and increase economic security.

Keynote speaker Anne Mosle directs Ascend, the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents towards educational success and economic security. Anne will speak about these new and innovative ways to help children and their parents.

Anne’s presentation will be followed by a panel that will talk about two-generation policies and approaches in Michigan. Members of the panel include Tim Becker, chief deputy director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; Carol Goss, former CEO of the Skillman Foundation; Dr. Ali Webb, director of Michigan programs, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Brian Whiston, new state superintendent and head of the Michigan Department of Education; and Mindy Ysasi, executive director, The SOURCE.

The public policy forum is FREE, but reservations are requested by Oct. 21 and seating is limited. On-site registration will be accepted if space allows. Light refreshments will be served. A brief annual meeting will begin at 1 p.m.

We hope you can join us, and please share this with other people who might be interested. Together, we can take a new approach to public policy in Michigan that will benefit working families and kids equally.

– Gilda Z. Jacobs


Racial disparities persist in child poverty

Census numbers released in September show that although poverty is decreasing in Michigan, racial inequities still exist, especially for children.

In 2014, there were 493,000 children (22.6%) living in poverty, compared to 2013 when there were 524,000 children (23.8%) in poverty.

A 31,000 drop in the number of poor children is good news. However, more than 1 out of 5 Michigan children living in poverty is still far too many. Poverty is especially strong in families with young children—22% of families with children under 5 are in poverty compared with 19% of all families with children.

Moreover, racial disparities are stark. More than 30% of Hispanic and Native American children and 47% of African-American children lived in poverty at some point during the year, while only 15.6% of white children and 13.7% of Asian-American children did. Much of this has to do with the fact that poor white and Asian-American families often live in suburban communities with income diversity and opportunities for economic advancement, while poor African-American and Hispanic families tend to live in areas of concentrated poverty with fewer jobs and advancement opportunities.

There are policy changes the state can make to address child poverty, including modernizing its child care subsidy program, providing opportunities for parents to build their skillsimproving conditions for low-paid workers, and preserving and restoring the state Earned Income Tax Credit. The Michigan League for Public Policy advocates for these and other strategies to address child poverty.

The League will also host a free policy forum on two-generation strategies to address child and adult poverty. More information and a registration form can be found here.

– Peter Ruark


Aging baby boomers face huge hurdle with Food Assistance Asset Test

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When most of us think of hunger and those in need, we think of children. As our recent Kids Count Data Book points out, too many Michigan children are currently facing poverty and hunger. But there’s another group of people who are also struggling with hunger, and it might come as a surprise: baby boomers. (more…)

Michigan families need federal action on EITC, CTC

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While much attention has been focused recently on protecting the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), there is equally urgent action needed in Washington to save critical pieces of the federal EITC and Child Tax Credit (CTC). The federal and Michigan EITCs combine to provide much-needed support to help working families rise out of poverty, and we have to fight this battle on multiple fronts in order to protect these valuable tools.

The three provisions of the federal EITC and CTC that are set to expire are: a larger EITC for families raising three or more children; a reduction in the EITC “marriage penalty” that some two-earner families face; and a lower CTC earnings exclusion that expands the credit to very low-income working families. These stipulations are critical to helping millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents make ends meet and afford the very things that keep them working, such as child care and transportation. (more…)

Economic recovery leaves Michigan children behind

Michigan is the “comeback state,” so we’ve heard. But, for whom? Michigan has more children living in poverty now than it did in the last full year of the Great Recession. Not only that, but since 2008, there are more children whose parents lack secure employment and more children living in concentrated poverty. Children and families in Michigan are being left behind in the economic recovery. (more…)

Young but not invincible: Young adults rely on credits too

When I graduated law school in 2008, I got rejection letter after rejection letter. I applied for every job you could imagine – part time, full time, hourly, salaried – the jobs just weren’t there. I eventually landed in a great office, but many millennials–those born between 1981 and 1997—who were just graduating high school, college, or from graduate programs, weren’t so lucky. (more…)

Making kids count in the state budget

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Conditions for Michigan’s kids are progressing in some areas of child well-being but in others…. well, let’s just say we’ve got some major work ahead of us, particularly when it comes to economic security. That’s the upshot of the newly released Kids Count in Michigan Data Book.

Fortunately, the budget plan spelled out by Gov. Rick Snyder last month does a good job in a tight budget year of addressing inequities by making some investments that will drive improvements for Michigan’s kids.

Most welcome is a $49 million initiative, including $24 million for child care quality improvements, to increase the chances of more children reading proficiently by the end of third grade.


Child poverty in the 21st century

The number of Michigan children living in families with income below the poverty level drops by half when tax and non-cash benefits are included as income, according to the latest analysis from the national KIDS COUNT project at the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The percentage of the state’s children who would be living in poverty if no government program benefits and tax credits were available, however, stood at 30 percent, as calculated by the Supplemental Poverty Measure. (more…)

Why kids count

Recent news reports celebrate the decline in the unemployment rate and the quickened tempo of the recovery. But four years into the recovery, Michigan’s child poverty rates remain consistently high.

In 2013, one of every four children in Michigan lived in a family with income below the federal poverty level (roughly $18,800 for a single-parent family of three and $23,600 for a two-parent family of four), according to the latest Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, released today. (more…)

Happy 40th Birthday, EITC!

Today is EITC Awareness Day, and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the widely recognized tool that lifts millions of working families and children out of poverty each year. States have the opportunity to build on the federal credit, which Michigan does. However, in 2011 the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit was cut leaving behind over 15,000 families in poverty in 2012. On May 5, the voters will have the opportunity to restore the credit by supporting an increase in the sales tax by one penny.

The Michigan EITC is only available to families who have earned income from working. The credit ensures that working families are better able to make ends meet. When combined with the federal EITC, working families are lifted out of poverty and children experience better outcomes, such as improved infant and maternal health; better school performance; greater college enrollment; increased work and earnings in the next generation; and Social Security retirement benefits. All of which also benefit Michigan’s economy. (more…)

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