Livingston, Clinton Co.'s take top spot: overall child well-being

LANSING, WLNS - How many students are graduating on time where you live?

Are they college ready?

A new study released this morning evaluates the overall well-being of children in Michigan.

Each year, the Michigan League for Public Policy ranks each county in our state.

The 2018 book primarily compares data from 2010 to 2016 and analyzes 16 key indicators across four domains.

Those domains are Economic Security, Health, Family and Community, and Education.

The report also ranks 82 of the 83 counties for overall child well-being (Keweenaw County lacks sufficient data

This year, the top two counties are right here in mid-Michigan.

Livingston County ranked #1.

Clinton County ranked #2.

Eaton County ranked #21.

Ingham County ranked #40.

Jackson County ranked #58.

Breaking things down further, some factors in each category include: how many students are receiving free or reduced lunches, is there child abuse or neglect at home, are students graduating on time, and do children have access to appropriate healthcare.

The report shows a majority of child well-being indicators have worsened state-wide since 2010, with widening disparities by race, ethnicity and income.

It also reveals that poverty and other economic strains remain a significant problem for Michigan kids, especially kids of color.

While the rate of child poverty in Michigan has improved by 11.5 percent since 2010, more than 1 in 5 kids in Michigan—including 42 percent of African-American kids and 30 percent of Latinx kids—still lived in poverty in 2016.

Additionally, 31 percent of children in Michigan lived in families without year-round, full-time employment.

Michigan ranks in the bottom ten 10 nationally in education for kids with many disparate outcomes for students of color and students in families with low incomes.

Nearly 53 percent of the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds are not in preschool.

About 56 percent of the state’s third-graders are not proficient in reading, including about 70 percent of kids of color compared to 48 percent of White third-graders.

“The 2018 Kids Count Data Book provides an important counterpoint to the conversation on Michigan’s economic recovery,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO for the Michigan League for Public Policy. “While poverty has dropped slightly, it’s still affecting nearly half of all African-American kids, and nearly a third of all Michigan kids don’t have any family member steadily working. As lawmakers work on the budget over the next few months, they must place a greater emphasis on supporting struggling families and their kids.”

Key policy recommendations:

  • “Raise the Age” of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old.
  • Strengthen policies that support work, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Allowing families to keep more of what they earn improves educational and health outcomes for kids.
  • Ensure access to affordable, high-quality child care.
  • Expand home visitation programs to help provide additional support to families, remove barriers that prevent access to prenatal care, and reduce risk for child abuse and neglect
  • Provide sufficient funding for early interventions to improve third-grade reading using a birth-to-8 framework and adequately fund public schools, targeting resources in high-need areas and fully funding the At-Risk program.

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