Kids Count: Marquette County ranks 20th in child well-being

MARQUETTE — Marquette County ranked 20th for child well-being by county, according to the 2019 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book released by the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, now in its 27th year, analyzes and evaluates the well-being of children in Michigan and its communities. It also identifies policy recommendations to improve outcomes for children.

This year’s book, which primarily compares data from 2012 to 2017, analyzes 16 key indicators in four areas: economic security, health and safety, family and community, and education.

The book also analyzes and ranks 82 of the state’s 83 counties for overall child well-being, with Keweenaw County lacking sufficient data to be included.

The overall child well-being rank is based on a county’s rank in 14 of the 16 measures. Infant mortality as well as child and teen deaths are excluded since many counties don’t have sufficient data on those indicators.

In the economic security category, Marquette County had a rate of 17.7% of children up to age 17 in poverty in 2017, which was a drop of 2.7% from the 2012 figure. For children up to age 5 in the Food Assistance Program, the county showed a 2017 rate of 20.9%, down 21.5% from 2012.

A total of 40.1% of students received free or reduced-price school lunches in 2017, a change of 3.9% from the 2012 percentage.

In the health and safety category, the 2017 results and the percentage change from 2012 are: less than adequate prenatal care, 30.9%, up 20.9%; low-birthweight babies, 7.3%, up 14.8%; infant mortality, per 1,000, 4.2, up 2.6%; and child/teen deaths, ages 1-19, per 100,000, 16.4, down 59.8%.

For family and community, the results are: births to teens, ages 15-19, per 1,000, 11.3, down 6%; child abuse/neglect-children in investigated families, per 1,000, 143.5, up 86.1%; child abuse/neglect, confirmed victims, per 1,000, 22.1, up 49.7%; and children in out-of-home care, per 1,000, 3.2, down 55.5%.

In the education category, the results are: 3- and 4-year-olds not in preschool, 55.4%, up 30.1%; students not graduating on time, 17.7%, up 17.5%; students not college ready, 63.3%, down 2.5%; third-graders not proficient in M-STEP English language arts, 51.4%, up 30.8%; and eighth-graders not proficient in M-STEP mathematics, 73.4%, down 3%.

Alger County ranked 29th for child well-being.

In the area of economic security, the 2017 results and the percentage change from 2012 for Alger County are: children in poverty up to age 17, 18.4%, down 18.6%; young children up to age 5 in the Food Assistance Program, 22.7%, down 30.4%; and students receiving free or reduced-price school lunches. 56.2%, up 18.2%.

In the health and safety category, the results are: less than adequate prenatal care, 41.5%, up 26%; low-birthweight babies, 9.1%, down 6.8%; and infant mortality, per 1,000, and child/teen deaths, ages 1-19, per 100,000, no results because of a low incidence of events or unavailable data.

For family and community, the results are: births to teens, ages 15-19, per 1,000, 17.4, down 15.8%; child abuse/neglect: children in investigated families, per 1,000, 105.8, down 5.5%; child abuse/neglect: confirmed victims, per 1,000, 18, up 35.5%; and children in out-of-home care, per 1,000, no results because of a low incidence of events or unavailable data.

In the education category, the results are: 3- and 4-year-olds not in preschool, 62.6%, up 58.7%; students not graduating on time, 9.9%, down 62%; students not college ready, 66.7%, down 6.6%; third-graders not proficient in M-STEP English language arts, 57%, up 46.5%; and eighth-graders not proficient in M-STEP mathematics, 57.3%, down 8.2%.

The top five Michigan counties for child well-being, from first to fifth, are, respectively: Livingston, Clinton, Ottawa, Oakland and Washtenaw. The bottom five, from 82nd to 78th, are, respectively: Lake, Luce, Alcona, Schoolcraft and Muskegon.

The data book connects its findings with policy recommendations to improve child well-being, including raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old, strengthening policies that support work such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, and expanding home visitation programs to provide additional support to families.

For more information on the 2019 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, visit mlpp.org/kids-count/michigan-2019-data-book.

Based in Lansing, the MLPP is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for everyone.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.\