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Reports offer holistic view of child well-being in Michigan

A group of kids play outside together
Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business - stock.adobe.co
A group of kids play outside together

A pair of research reports are providing a holistic perspective on how Michigan children are faring in the key measures of well-being.

The 50-state 2022 Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation was released today, and emphasized kids across the nation are in the midst of a mental-health crisis, including roughly 242,000 in Michigan who are struggling with anxiety and depression.

Alex Rossman, director of external affairs for the Michigan League for Public Policy, explained overall, the report ranked Michigan 32nd among states.

"Our highest ranking was in the category of health, which continues to be a bright spot for the state," Rossman pointed out. "Our lowest, which is a persistent area of need, is the education ranking where we're actually 40th, so bottom 10 in the country."

The League recently released its 2022 Kids Count in Michigan Data Profiles, which examine state- and county-level data. It found improvement in 10 of 14 key areas over the last decade, including declines in child poverty, which fell statewide by 28%.

Kelsey Perdue, Kids Count project manager for the Michigan League for Public Policy, noted child poverty has continued to decrease over the past year. She credits it to a number of COVID-era policies.

"Particularly increases and extension to the federal child tax credit that lifted 114,000 Michigan children out of poverty and benefited another nearly two million," Perdue cited. "And the federal and Michigan Earned income tax credits were expanded to working adults without children."

Perdue explained the state and local data is valuable in evaluating past policy and investment decisions and identifying ongoing areas of need. She noted a recent win was the historic $1.4 billion investment in the 2022 state budget in child care. And now, she said, there is an opportunity for state policymakers to help children and families by increasing the state Earned Income Tax Credit.

"We really hope to see some of these COVID-era changes, particularly to the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit, made permanent," Perdue urged. "Because we really see that they are benefiting low-income workers and children."

It is estimated raising the state tax credit from its current 6% of the federal credit to 30% would mean a difference of $150 to $749 for working people. Perdue added it would also benefit small businesses and local economies.

Mary'Schuermann' Kuhlman is an Ohio-based broadcast journalist who joined the Public News Service team in 2008. Previous experience includes radio news reporting and anchoring for WHIO-AM in Dayton and WTAM 1100 in Cleveland. She’s produced hundreds of stories across the country for PNS over the years, served as an assignment editor and helped launch the PNS Daily Newscast in 2012. Mary currently covers beats in Ohio and other Midwestern states, and co-anchors 2021Talks, a PNS newscast tracking politics and elections.
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