Few would argue that helping at risk children saves communities, taxpayers, and the child. Reading this article from the Detroit news indicates that some policy makers still don’t understand the relationship between healthy children and productive adults (or unhealthy children, preteen mothers and adolescent felons).
Last Updated: January 12. 2010 12:47PM
Child poverty, neglect on rise in Michigan
Catherine Jun / The Detroit News
Childhood poverty, neglect and abuse continue to rise in Michigan, troubling signs that children continue to bear the brunt of the state’s economic woes, according to a report released today.
Read more: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100112/METRO/1120362/1409/METRO/Child-poverty–neglect-on-rise-in-Michigan#ixzz0d4mLZOj4More than 40 percent of Michigan students were eligible and received free or reduced federal lunches in 2008, according to Kids Count in Michigan, a report released by the Michigan League of Human Services. That’s up from 30.7 percent in 2001.
Even in Oakland County, the state’s wealthiest county, more children (age 17 and younger) are falling into poverty: 11 percent compared with 8.6 percent in 2005.
Statewide, one in five children lives in poverty.
At the same time, many of the programs that serve as a safety net to families are being cut, said Jane Zehnder-Merrell, senior research associate at the League.
“The erosion of economic security has a huge impact on kids,” she said.
Poverty is tied to a 16 percent increase in confirmed cases of abuse and neglect since 2000, said Denise Glover, project director at the Child Care Coordinating Council of Detroit/Wayne County.
Glover said impoverished parents often cannot provide heat in their homes, often viewed as a measure of child neglect. Or they may take out their financial stress on their children.
“Tempers flair and the frustration levels increase,” she said. “Children become the victims.”
The report, which is based on the most current data available to the league, did find some positive trends, including a decline in childhood deaths — 18.9 deaths per 100,000 children ages 1 to 14, down from 23.1 in 2000.
Infant mortality also showed a decline — to 7.8 deaths per 1,000 infants from 8.1 in 2000. The rate of births to teens fell 20 percent over the decade.
Detroit recorded measurable improvements in childhood mortality, as well as in teen pregnancy rates and prenatal care since 2000.
Bill Ridella, deputy director of the city’s health department, credited the improvements to better coordination between health departments, school clinics and local hospitals in providing health education to teenagers.
But the city still rates worse than the state’s average on child health.
“The health of the women in our community remains an issue,” said Carolynn Rowland, the city’s maternal infant health director.
Amy Good, chief executive of Alternatives for Girls, said the data doesn’t show what has happened since 2007, when teen pregnancy began to increase after a steady decline.
The Detroit agency, which provides shelter for homeless and at-risk teens, lost state funding last year, which amounted to 6 percent of its budget. As a result, the nonprofit group only accepts homeless women.
“It’s a terrible thing to have to say to someone … call us when you’re homeless,” Good said.
In Macomb County, the rate of low birth-weight babies worsened, to 8.3 percent, from 6.8 percent in 2000.
A $1.83 million federal grant for an Early Head Start program hopefully will change that, said Laura Bracali, at the Macomb County Community Services Agency.
The program will prioritize high-risk mothers and infants, providing nurse visits, access to immunizations and providing counseling on nutrition.
“Those are part of our goals,” Bracali said.
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Read more: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100112/METRO/1120362/1409/METRO/Child-poverty–neglect-on-rise-in-Michigan#ixzz0d4mXrQsV