Michigan's new Kids Count has good news for child poverty levels, graduation rates

Historic investment in child care and expanded tax credits for parents were among several Covid-era policies that helped drop the child poverty levels in Michigan, a new study found.

Child poverty rates fell in almost every Michigan county over the past decade, while in the same period of time the rate of students graduating from high school has risen 5%. Funding has also been sustained for a school meal program that helps districts and child care centers in every Michigan county. 

The consensus from the Michigan League for Public Policy's annual Kids Count report is good news for proponents of the rule changes implemented as a result of the pandemic. 

Child poverty rates fell in 82 Michigan counties from 2010-2020, with income data showing a 28% drop over the previous decade, according to the study. The MLPP said the expanded Federal Child Tax Credit lifted 114,000 kids out of poverty in Michigan.

The expanded credit from both the federal government and the state also benefited 1,968,000 young people. Child advocates hope the increased access becomes a feature rather than a bug of the laws that stick around from the pandemic.

"Despite these challenging times, Michigan has seen new and significant investments in children in the last year, including the 2023 state budget passed earlier this month," said Kelsey
Perdue, Kids Count in Michigan Director for the Michigan League for Public Policy. "These data profiles show where we have been and where we should be going on policies to support kids
and parents." 

We have certainly made some important progress, but there are still clear areas for improvement. We must make some COVID-era policy changes permanent, find revenue to
sustain our efforts after federal relief dollars run out, and work to equitably meet the needs of all families."

READ MORE: Pneumonia, myocarditis, multisystem inflammatory syndrome - what Michigan doctors see in kids with COVID-19

Michigan's new $76 billion-budget signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last included $15.2 billion for schools - a significant one-time funding haul. It also added a $1.4 billion investment in child care that increases the number of families eligible for assistance. 

The new report said the state has seen improvements in 10 of 14 key data points.