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Report: Michigan's Child Welfare Problem Has Solutions

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Michigan ranks 41st in the nation for education, according to a new report. (kconnors/morguefile)
Michigan ranks 41st in the nation for education, according to a new report. (kconnors/morguefile)
December 4, 2017

Lansing, Mich. — As Michigan continues to slide toward the bottom of the nation when it comes to education and child poverty, a new report offers a blueprint for policymakers to begin to turn things around.

According to the 2017 Kids Count report, Michigan ranks 32nd in the country for overall child well being, and lags well behind surrounding states.

After crunching all the data, the Michigan League for Public Policy's Alicia Guevara Warren said they've developed a series of concrete steps lawmakers can take to improve opportunities for kids statewide. But, she said it all comes down to the state budget.

"It really is our single largest expression of our priorities,” Guevara Warren said. "And if we're going to prioritize making Michigan a place where kids and families thrive, we really need to make families and communities and kids a priority in where we put our money and our investments."

The report recommends the state take a comprehensive, multi-generational approach to lifting families out of poverty. For example, Guevara Warren said revamping the state's childcare system would allow more parents to work, which would also increase productivity for employers, while giving kids critical early learning experiences.

The full report is available on the League's website.

Guevara Warren said while there will always be a price tag that comes with investing in critical state and federal services, the ultimate cost of not investing in children is far higher.

"If we look at our education in particular, we've fallen to the bottom ten, and we know that education is one of those keys to economic security in the long run,” she said. "So if we don't start really prioritizing, we're just going to continue to see that lag for Michigan kids nationally. "

She added that Michigan has made progress in some areas, including state-funded preschool for 4-year-olds.

The report also recommends restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit and reforming the state's criminal justice system so that 17-year-olds are not automatically prosecuted as adults. Both issues are measures currently before the state Legislature.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI