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Data: How Michigan children’s well-being has changed over the decade

Kids Count in Michigan share findings on children’s well-being in light of the coronavirus pandemic

A family go for a walk taking their hands along a street of the old city, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Sunday, April 27, 2020. On Sunday, children under 14 years old will be allowed to take walks with a parent for up to one hour and within one kilometer from home, ending six weeks of compete seclusion. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
A family go for a walk taking their hands along a street of the old city, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Sunday, April 27, 2020. On Sunday, children under 14 years old will be allowed to take walks with a parent for up to one hour and within one kilometer from home, ending six weeks of compete seclusion. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

LANSING, Mich.Detailed data on Michigan children and their well-being was released by the Michigan League for Public Policy’s Kids Count in Michigan Project on Wednesday.

Kids Count in Michigan shares annual findings after examining children’s well-being in the categories of health and safety, economic security, education and family and community.

The data is split up by Michigan counties in addition to extra data profiles focused specifically on Flint, Detroit, five regions and the state as a whole. Data profiles can be found here.

The report compares 2020 data to 2010 data, noting significant decreases in child poverty, teen births and young adult poverty and increases in child abuse and neglect.

Officials listed the following key findings from the 2020 report:

  • Economic Security: Since 2010, the percentage of Michigan children age 0-17 living in poverty has improved from 23.4% in 2010 to 19.3% in 2018. That still means that nearly 1 in 5 Michigan children live in poverty. Almost 1.7 million Michigan households -- 42.3% --were living in poverty or below the ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) threshold in 2017, an increase over the past decade. 
  • Food Access: For School Year 2018-2019, half of all Michigan kids -- 730,891 -- received free or reduced-price lunch. For that same year, 162,111 Michigan kids age 0-18 -- nearly a quarter --received food assistance benefits. Young kids (those 0-5) are most at risk of not having enough food or nutritionally adequate foods, jeopardizing vital brain and body development.
  • Health Care Coverage: Health care continues to be a bright spot for Michigan kids, with 97% having health coverage in 2017. Michigan’s improved health care coverage for kids is due in large part to the Affordable Care Act and the Healthy Michigan Plan.
  • Child Abuse and Neglect: Child abuse and neglect continue to be a concern in the state, with children in investigated families increasing by 71.8% and confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect increasing 33.7% over the last decade.
  • Children’s Internet Access: Statewide, 87.7% of children age 0-17 in the state live in homes with access to the internet. The 12.3% of kids who do not have internet at home equals about 266,000 kids. Kids’ internet access by county ranges between 65% and 96%, and is lowest in rural areas.

Officials say the data is even more pressing amid the state’s coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic -- though the 2020 report does not include the impact of the coronavirus.

“Kids across the state are full of promise and potential, and policymakers need to listen to the data and make sound policy decisions to make sure they all thrive,” said Kelsey Perdue, Kids Count in Michigan Project Director. “The policy and funding needs of Michigan kids will be more important than ever in the months ahead as the Legislature may have to make substantial cuts to the state budget while also helping distribute more than $3 billion in federal COVID relief for the state.”

The 2020 data displays the needs of children before the COVID-19 pandemic and can be used to identify what their needs will look like following it, according to officials. With families facing significant economic impact due to the pandemic, officials say an emphasis is put on the need for safety net programs, food security, health care, child abuse and neglect prevention and more.

Click here to view the data from the Michigan League for Public Policy.

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