While the economy might be improving for some, The Kids Count Project Director at the Michigan League for Public Policy, Alicia Guevara Warren, says many people especially children are being left behind.
The latest Kids Count in Michigan report finds there are higher rates of poverty for minorities and kids in rural areas, although Guevara Warren says poverty is increasing faster in urban areas.
The numbers vary widely by county. Kalamazoo County ranks 47th in the state for child well-being, Van Buren County is 54th, Calhoun County 66th. Two counties to the north fare better, Allegan County ranks 18th and Barry County 8th. Guevara Warren says areas that have more resources, higher incomes and access to services and quality schools tend to be ranked higher.
Guevara Warren says the most concerning aspect of the report is that the number of children living in poverty isn’t getting much better. Asked if there is any good news in the report, Guevara Warren says Michigan is making some impact on low birth weight babies and infant mortality. But she says there are still gaps based on race. Guevara Warren says there has been improvement in the number of births to teens. She says fewer students are failing to graduate high school on time, and fewer students are dropping out.
As far as policy changes, the Michigan League for Public Policy would like to improve access to affordable, high quality child care. Guevara Warren says that would help children get better prepared for kindergarten, and allow adults to stay at work. She says eligibility levels for child care subsidies could be raised to include more families.