More Michigan Children Living in Poverty - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

More Michigan Children Living in Poverty

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) - A new report says more than a half-million Michigan children lived in poverty in 2011. Poverty is defined as making less than $18,000 a year.

The annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book reports Thursday that the number of children living in families with incomes below the poverty level grew by 28 percent between 2005 and 2010.

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is project director of Kids Count in Michigan.  She tells The Associated Press that the state's consistently high unemployment rate and cuts in social programs have contributed to decreased economic security for Michigan children.

The report also showed a 55 percent increase between 2005 and 2011 in children through the age of 5 who qualified for food assistance and a 28 percent increase in child abuse and neglect connected to poverty.

Ingham County is ranked 41 out of 82 counties in the state. Child poverty increased 15 percent, the need for food assistance went up 22 percent and child abuse and neglect increased by 92 percent.

Officials say there are many factors that play a role in that alarming rise in Ingham county, among them include more credible professionals required to report suspected abuse, 1,000 more caseworkers out in the community, good relations with the county's law enforcement and a strong family court.

DHS says that the 92 percent spike in neglect and abuse came in what they call a "level three" or "low risk" category. These are families, DHS says, get the services they need and see success.

Jackson County ranks 58th. Child poverty jumped 54 percent, the need for food assistance went up 46 percent and abuse and neglect rose 6 percent.

Michigan ranks 32nd out of the 50 states. The three worst counties in Michigan are Lake, Roscommon and Clare. Among the top three, Ottawa was ranked the highest, followed by Livingston and then Clinton County.

The numbers aren't all bad. The results show there are fewer kids in foster care, infant death rates have dropped and 4th grade reading levels have improved.

You can see the whole report here.

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