Report: Michigan in middle of the pack for kids' care

click to enlarge Critics say the state legislature has been shortchanging K-12 schools for years. - SHUTTERSTOCK
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Critics say the state legislature has been shortchanging K-12 schools for years.

Michigan ranked 28th in the country for overall child well-being and 41st in education as of 2019, according to a new report.

The 2021 Kids Count Databook from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that Michigan had been making progress before the pandemic, with 18% of children living in poverty in 2019 compared to 23% in 2010.

Kelsey Perdue, Kids Count Initiative project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy, said one bright spot is Michigan's success in getting 97% of kids insured — the 5th best record in the country.

"However, pre-pandemic we know that over half of our kids were covered by an employer-sponsored health plan, associated with their caregivers' work plan," said Perdue. "But with massive job loss last year, that outcome is definitely at risk."

The Kids Count Databook shows that 68% of Michigan 4th graders are not proficient in reading — and 69% of 8th graders aren't at grade level in math.

Perdue said the state legislature has been shortchanging K-12 schools for years.

"Over the last decade Michigan diverted $4.5 billion that was intended for public K-12 schools to universities and community colleges to help balance the state budget," said Perdue. "So we haven't adequately funded our schools and we certainly haven't equitably funded our schools. "

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs at the Casey Foundation, said the data show persistent racial or ethnic inequities, especially during the pandemic.

"If you look at families who were anxious about either being evicted or losing their homes," said Boissiere, "the overall number was about 20%. So one in five. If you look at the number of Black and Latino families, it was more like one in three."

The new child poverty tax credit will send most families an extra $250 to $300 dollars a month per child starting in a few weeks, going through the end of the year. The report calls on Congress to make those income supports permanent.

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