Michigan report shows increase in assistance for hungry students

Key to strengthening education is ending poverty among students. After all, children can’t devote their full attention to their studies if they’re too busy worrying about where their next meal will come from or whether they’ll have basic supplies like winter coats and soap. 

The annual Kids Count in Michigan Report found more than 37 percent of Michigan children qualified for nutritional help because their families were living on less than $31.000 a year for a two-parent, two-child family.  According to the study, this is a 53 percent increase in the rate of young children who qualified for federal food assistance between 2005 and 2012.

 Michigan is now ranked No. 31—in the bottom half of the country--when it comes to child well-being.

Included among the number of low-income Michigan children are the more than 37,500 Michigan students who are homeless, according to the state Department of Education. That figure has increased 66 percent in just four years, according to state officials. 

To improve conditions for children, the report recommends reinstating the Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent. It was cut to 6 percent. Other solutions mentioned were increasing the child care subsidy amount and eligibility level; supporting the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; raise the minimum wage; and invest in early childhood education.

The report was not all bad news. Fourth-grade reading scores improved 20 percent while eighth-grade math scores increased 1 percent and high school reading improved 8 percent between 2008 and 2012. 

Kids Count is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation and local United Ways.