The Michigan League for Public Policy released the Michigan Kids Count Databook 2012, which again, like every year for the last two decades, illustrates just how children, youth and families are doing throughout Michigan. This county-by-county report allows us to see how our communities are faring on economic well-being, health, safety and education and looks at how all of those areas together impact success.
This is great timing. The Legislature is convening committees and leaders are making pronouncements about where their time will be prioritized over this session. The Governor will be releasing his budget proposal in the next couple of weeks, where he’ll set his priority investments in our state.
As we know, good public policymaking can contribute positively to well-being, inadequate or misguided public policymaking also impacts well-being. The findings in the Data Book once again point to the need for real commitment to supporting programs that lead to successful children, youth and families in Michigan – commitment that we have not seen at the state level in recent years. In 2013, we are looking to policymakers for the following:
- Address the growing poverty faced by Michigan families and communities by reinstating the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 2012 levels;
- Address the growing shares of children who are confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect by increasing investment for family support services that reach families with infants and toddlers – those most likely to be impacted;
- Ensure continued improvement in 4th grade reading success by improving family access to quality early learning programs and strengthening connections between early childhood and the early elementary school years;
- Enable higher high school graduation rates by expanding access to alternative education opportunities that utilize a fifth or sixth year of high school and connect a high school credential to community college credits or real-world work experience.
Kids Count is a great tool to help encourage our policymakers to champion issues that are crucial for Michigan’s success. Use it to insist that policy decisions strengthen our ability to ensure that ALL children can thrive in school, the workplace, and in life.
The annual Data Book is released by the Kids Count in Michigan project. It is a collaboration between the Michigan League for Public Policy (formerly the Michigan League for Human Services), which researches and writes the report, and Michigan’s Children, which works with advocates statewide to disseminate the findings. Both are nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organizations concerned about the well-being of children and their families.