For Immediate Release
April 29, 2020
Annual Kids Count data released, highlights kids’ needs in light of COVID-19 crisis
Profiles examine economic security, food access, healthcare and more at state, county level
LANSING—Today, the Michigan League for Public Policy’s Kids Count in Michigan Project released its 2020 Kids Count online data profiles that examine child well-being at the state and county level.
The profiles look at 16 child well-being indicators in four categories—Economic Security, Education, Family and Community, and Health and Safety—for each of Michigan’s 83 counties, with additional data profiles for five regions, the cities of Flint and Detroit, and the state as a whole. This data and analysis of Michigan kids’ needs is more important than ever in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
“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.”
While the most recent data available on child well-being in Michigan does not incorporate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, it shows where kids were at before this health and economic crisis, and where the biggest needs will be following it. The business closures and job losses related to COVID-19 will have a significant impact on Michigan parents and their kids, putting even greater emphasis on safety net programs, food security, healthcare, child abuse and neglect prevention and more.
Here are some of the key findings in the 2020 Kids Count profiles—and data that is particularly relevant to the COVID-19 crisis and the related economic strain.
- Economic Security: Since 2010, the percentage of Michigan children age 0-17 living in poverty has improved from 23.4 percent in 2010 to 19.3 percent in 2018. That still means that nearly 1 in 5 Michigan children live in poverty, a rate that is far too high. Looking at what it really costs to make ends meet, almost 1.7 million Michigan households—42.3 percent—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.
- Healthcare Coverage: Healthcare continues to be a bright spot for Michigan kids, with 97 percent having health coverage in 2017. Michigan’s improved healthcare 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 percent and confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect increasing 33.7 percent over the last decade.
- Children’s Internet Access: Statewide, 87.7 percent of children age 0-17 in the state live in homes with access to the internet. The 12.3 percent of kids who do not have internet at home equals about 266,000 kids. Kids’ internet access by county ranges between 65 percent and 96 percent, and is lowest in rural areas.
“The Kids Count data is intended to be an advocacy tool as well as an informational one, and the project achieved several big wins over the past year,” Perdue said. “We helped successfully pass ‘Raise the Age’ to stop automatically treating all justice-involved 17-year-olds as adults. With criminal justice reform, key 2020 budget investments and other important policy decisions, lawmakers have shown that they can put political differences aside to work for common sense and the common good. We hope that collaboration can continue to tackle the problems facing Michigan kids before, during and after the COVID-19 crisis.”
In looking at county trends in the data, 80 counties saw a decrease in child poverty, 79 counties saw a decrease in teen births, and 55 counties saw a decrease in young adult poverty since 2010. The profiles also show that 57 counties saw an increase in high school graduation rates over the trend period.
Child abuse and neglect continue to show concerning trends, with 81 counties seeing an increase in children in investigated families, 64 counties seeing an increase in confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect, and 51 counties seeing an increase in children in out-of-home care since 2010. Over the trend period, 62 counties saw an increase in households below the ALICE threshold and 68 counties saw a decrease in students scoring proficient in Grade 3 English Language Arts on the M-STEP.
Note that the county data available is different for some indicators and these trends are not all out of 83 total counties.
Please note that some additional changes have been made to the Kids Count data and how it is presented this year. Beginning this year, the annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book will be produced every other year. The 2020 profiles are an online tool to provide the same data that is usually covered in the book and are easily accessible. Based on feedback from our partners, the Kids Count Project has also moved away from ranking counties in each child well-being indicator and in overall child well-being, instead promoting trends within each county to focus on areas of improvement and areas of need.
The Michigan League for Public Policy has developed a series of policy briefs addressing the COVID-19 crisis that can be accessed here.
The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Battle Creek Community Foundation, and the Fetzer Institute. More state and local data are available at the Kids Count Data Center, www.datacenter.kidscount.org.
The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.