Report Notes Increase In Michigan Child Poverty 2-08-2011 - WNEM TV 5

Report Notes Increase In Michigan Child Poverty 2-08-2011

A new report documents how a long economic slump has pushed more children in Michigan into poverty and put more stress on social "safety net" programs.
The Kids Count in Michigan report released Tuesday says the poverty rate for children under 18 in the state climbed from 14 percent in 2000 to 23 percent in 2009. The report said of the 48,074 children and teens in Saginaw County, 26 percent live in poverty.
The report also indicated a rise – 25 percent – in the rate of confirmed victims of childhood abuse and neglect between 2000 and 2009. A federal report finds that 90 percent of the cases are due to neglect, often made worse by poverty.

“This is a call to action if ever there was one,” said Judy Y. Samelson, chief executive officer of the Early Childhood Investment Corp., a public/private initiative working to improve early childhood factors in Michigan. “This is the state’s future workforce we’re talking about, and the research is clear that years spent in poverty during childhood affect education and employment.”
The percentage of children statewide who depend on food assistance programs or "food stamps" rose from 10 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2009.
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Advocates say programs for children including cash assistance help must be safeguarded and enhanced even as government leaders look to erase a projected $1.8 billion budget deficit for the fiscal year starting in October.
Groups involved in the report include the Michigan League for Human Services and Michigan's Children.
The report examines data trends in 15 areas and ranks Michigan’s 83 counties based on the recent rates.
The theme of this year’s report is connecting the dots between education and other areas of children’s lives, according to Jane Zehnder-Merrell, director of the Kids Count in Michigan project at the Michigan League for Human Services.
“We can’t look at our education system in isolation. Michigan must make sure children are healthy and have adequate economic support and that a strong child welfare system is in place to protect children,’’ Zehnder-Merrell said. “Unfortunately, the data show that support systems are strained and overloaded - we’re not keeping up with the needs of kids.”
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