Michigan ranks 32nd for overall child well-being

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Despite small improvements to children’s health, economic well-being, education, and family and community relationships, Michigan still only ranks 32nd in the nation for overall child well-being. 

According to several indicators by the national 2020 Kids Count Data Book, released Monday by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, Michigan’s best ranking is health at 22nd in the nation, and its worst ranking is education at 40th in the nation. 

The state ranks 30th in both economic well-being and family and community.

“If Michigan wants to be a state that stands out as a quality place to grow up, policymakers have to address this data and our middling national rankings and make some important changes,” said Kelsey Perdue, Kids Count in Michigan Project Director at the Lansing-based Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP). 

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Michigan improved on 11 of the 16 indicators in the index, while two indicators stayed the same and three worsened. 

The three indicators that worsened are low birth-weight babies, child and teen deaths, and children in single-parent families. 

While Michigan’s overall ranking didn’t improve, many indicators still did. 

Since 2010, Michigan has seen a significant decrease in teen births, high school students not graduating on time, children living in households with a high housing cost burden, children whose parents lack secure employment and children living in poverty. 

The changes in data follow national trends, which explains the plateaus or declines, despite improvements.

Column: Michigan gets called out for having the most Black children living in concentrated poverty

The report uses the most recent available data, but most is from 2018. So the current COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession are not taken into account.

Massachusetts ranked first, New Hampshire second and Minnesota third for child well-being. Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico were 48th, 49th and 50th, respectively.

“Working to keep kids healthy and safe has never been more essential,” said Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “Having consistent, reliable data to guide our decisions will be critical as we continue seeking to ensure the well-being of children, families and communities throughout this challenging time and beyond.”