LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A vast number of Michigan children have tumbled into poverty over the past 25 years while fewer teens are giving birth or dying, according to the annual Kids Count survey.
The survey, released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shows that Michigan ranks 32nd in overall child well-being nationally, down one slot since last year. Spokesperson Judy Putnam said the report also shows that a quarter of the state’s children are now living in poverty.
The report shows there was a 36 percent increase in the number of children living in unaffordable housing, defined as consuming 30 percent or more of the household income. More than one in every three kids lives in such a household. In addition, the rate of kids living in single-parent families jumped 30 percent.
Michigan’s lowest ranking was in education, where children have struggled in math, reading and graduating on time. But since 1990, the state has seen significant improvements with its children attending preschool and having a parent or guardian with a diploma.
“Where we lag in the education rankings are fourth graders proficient in reading, we’re number 37, and then eighth graders in math, we’re number 38, and high school students graduating on time, we’re number 39,” Putnam said.
Since the first Kids Count report was released 25 years ago, the number of teenage pregnancies have dramatically decreased. The rate of births per 1,000 Michigan teens improved by 56 percent, falling from 59 births to 26 births per 1,000 teens.
Other progress in that time frame was a 41 percent improvement in the child and teen death rate, in part a result of stronger teen driver laws through a graduated driver’s license. In addition, Michigan enjoyed a 41 percent improvement in children living in families where the head of the household lacks a diploma, and a 28 percent improvement in the share of 3- and 4-year-olds not attending preschool.
Michigan League for Public Policy said in a statement that “good public policy” has made a difference in some areas, but it’s “not acceptable” that Michigan ranks in the bottom half of the nation and more needs to be done.
Click here to see Michigan’s Kids Count scorecard (.pdf format)
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