Latest Kids Count profiles good snapshot of county
The Michigan League for Public Policy’s newly released “2022 Kids Count in Michigan Data Profiles” includes a lot of good news about Marquette County.
As usual, though, a lot of work needs to be done.
The profiles identify state and county trends in four categories: economic security, education, health and safety, and family and community.
The data profile for Marquette County, for example, shows the rate of newborn children to age 17 living in poverty dropped 12.7% from 2010 to 2020. However, young adults ages 18 to 24 living in poverty increased 28.5% in that time period.
The rate of 3- and 4-year-olds in preschool from 2010 to 2020 increased 10.6%, while the rate of students graduating on time increased 1% from 2010 to 2021.
Teen births dropped 49.2% from 2010 to 2020, while infant mortality dropped 11.2% in that same time period.
The rate of less-than-adequate prenatal care, though, was up 26.9% from 2010 to 2020.
MLPP listed 2022 policy wins and targets. A number of COVID-era changes lifted children out of poverty and helped young adults, Federal Child Tax Credit payment amounts were increased and extended to children in families with low or no earnings, and advance monthly payments were provided to increase income stability.
So, MLPP recommends making these expansions permanent and increasing Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit from its current 6% to 30% of the federal credit, indicating that an increase of this amount would mean a difference of $150 to $749 in credit to working people.
MLPP also noted that although Michigan has steadily increased per-pupil funding, that funding — when adjusted for inflation — actually fell by 9% between 2008 and 2019. It also reported that Michigan shifted $4.5 million intended for K-12 schools to universities and community colleges from 2010 to 2019 to help balance the state budget.
Because of these statistics, MLPP urges using the money in the state’s School Fund Aid solely for K-12 education, as had been the case before 2009.
Another problem in the area of education involves students not being in school, with Michigan having the third-highest rate of fourth-grade chronic absenteeism in the U.S. in 2019, an increase of nearly 47% since 2015, according to MLPP, which noted that students who are economically disadvantaged and/or homeless continue to be most likely to be chronically absent.
MLPP believes that tackling economic and housing insecurity is one way to address this problem.
As in previous years, there are many aspects to this year’s Kids Count — and many ways to work to solve the issues.
We believe local, state and federal agencies — as well as the communities they serve — should continue to work together for the betterment of Michigan’s youngsters.