For Immediate Release
April 2, 2020
Children’s internet access in Michigan: Data shows geographic disparities, different challenges with school closings
LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy’s Kids Count in Michigan Project has state and county data on kids’ internet access at home that is available on the Kids Count Data Center. Data is also online for Detroit and Flint and information on other cities is available upon request. This data is beneficial to media covering today’s executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer physically closing schools for the remainder of the year and will help inform local school districts as they prepare remote learning plans to best accommodate all students and their needs.
Statewide, 87.7 percent of children (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 comes out to around 266,000 kids. Kids’ internet access by county ranges between 65 percent and 96 percent, and is lowest in rural areas. The indicator on kids’ internet access will also be included in the League’s Kids Count state and county profiles that will be released later this spring that look at child well-being in four categories—Family and Community, Health and Safety, Education and Economic Security.
“Everyone is trying their best to cope with the COVID-19 crisis, from the governor and state officials to our teachers, parents and kids. Closing schools for the year was surely a difficult decision, but it’s the right one,” said Kelsey Perdue, Kids Count in Michigan Director. “But as schools move to remote learning for the remainder of the year, it’s important to understand the circumstances and needs of local kids. The governor addressed that by allowing school districts to develop their own plans, and the data shows that many districts will need to look beyond online learning and look at other approaches to make sure all students have access as part of any remote learning plans.”
Household internet access is also highly relevant in the discussion of the 2020 Census, as in-person census-taking and large informational events on the census have both been suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis. Kids Count Policy Analyst Parker James recently wrote a blog on the 2020 Census and COVID-19.
The Michigan League for Public Policy also released a set of policy recommendations related to the COVID-19 crisis earlier this week, which are available at https://mlpp.org/covid.
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, Ford Motor Company Fund, 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.