The Annie E. Casey Foundation released both the Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children and Kids Count reports, which look at 12 conditions encompassing early childhood to adulthood for those in different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Some conditions include infants born at normal birth weight, children enrolled in preschool, math and reading proficiency, and children who live in families with incomes at or above 200 percent of poverty.
Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count in Michigan project director for the Michigan League for Public Policy, said the report is the first time data has moved beyond state averages, and it looks at how children are doing by race and ethnicity.
“The whole idea is to use the data as a starting point for taking action,” she said.
On an overall well-being scale — with 1,000 being the best — Michigan’s children of Hispanic, American-Indian and Asian/Pacific Islander decent ranked higher than the national average.
Zehnder-Merrell attributed the state’s economic downturn for why Michigan’s white and African American children are below the national average.
The nation’s average score for white children is 704, while Michigan’s is 668. The overall well-being for African American children in Michigan is 244, and the national average is 345.
The report also found that African American children in Michigan have worse outcomes than national peers on 8 of the 12 indicators.
To help make improvements, the Michigan League for Public Policy has recommended that the state reinstate the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit at 20 percent of the federal credit level, raise the childcare subsidy amount and eligibility level, and increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.10.
Zehnder-Merrell said the recommendations would help improve child well-being because parents would be less stressed if they could afford to meet basic needs and focus on other issues.
She noted that the report would be shared with local and state policymakers to encourage them to take action.
“In America, we really do believe people should have an equal opportunity to succeed, and this data really shows us that’s not the case,” Zehnder-Merrell said. “We should be addressing those barriers.”
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