It's a report that's come out annually for 25 years now, but we never know quite where our state will improve – or decline. Well, the 2014 numbers are in. And it appears Michigan ranks an overall 32nd place in the Kids Count study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The report is based on data collected from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and reflects how many kids fall into different areas of four main categories: economic well-being, family and community, education and health.
A look at Michigan's numbers
Although placing in the bottom half of the country this year, Michigan has actually shown a dramatic increase in many areas. According to the Michigan Kids Count Profile, Michiganders have improved the most in education. The number of children not attending preschool has decreased by 2 percent since 2007 – and the tally of eighth graders not proficient in math has also gone down 1 percent since 2005.
More importantly, the number of high school students not graduating on time continues to improve from 28 percent in 2006 to 23 percent since 2012.
However, the study revealed worsening conditions elsewhere. Michigan has had a spike in child poverty rates by a whopping 6 percent, which jumped from 19 to 25 percent since 2005. In addition, children living in high-poverty areas also increased, doubling 8 to 16 percent since 2000.
According to the Kids Count Data Center indicator selections, Michigan children in low-income working families have increased from 18 percent in 2007 to 21 percent since 2012 – and kids with neither parent in the workforce has crept up since 2007 by 2 percent.
Despite these economic struggles, teen moms under age 20 have steadily decreased since 2008, dipping from 10 to 8.7 percent.
Moving in the right direction
Aside from Michigan's demographics and data results, a broader perspective from the Annie E. Casey Foundation reveals national and state policy changes are resulting in positive outcomes for kids – with hopes of more to come.
Granted, more children are living in high-poverty areas and in single-parent households, causing a greater impact on social and economic factors. Yet there are promising trends spreading across the U.S., including smaller tallies of kids living in home with parents who don't have a high school diploma and, again, those record-setting low teen birth rates.
Other good news: The increased use of seat belts, car seats and bike helmets, along with the latest medical and technological advances, also play a huge part in lowering the child death rates.
"With advances in neuroscience, as well as solid research on what works, we now know more than ever before about how to give children a good start and help them meet major developmental milestones throughout childhood," says the foundation's president and CEO, Patrick McCarthy, on the study's website. "We should all be encouraged by the improvements in many well-being indicators in the health, education and safety areas."