Jennifer Gray of Access West Michigan
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- A growing number of Michigan's children are living in poverty. That's according to the latest Kids Count report. The report provides a snapshot of how Michigan's children are doing, and it doesn't look good.
Michigan ranks 31st in the U.S. for overall child wellbeing, which factors in poverty levels, education rates, and health. Among Great Lakes States, Michigan is dead last.
Jennifer Gray is vice president of Access of West Michigan. "Michigan is not doing very well and we haven't been doing very well for years. One of the trends that's really alarming is the amount of people that have fallen into poverty since 2005-- over a 30% increase in Michigan," says Gray.
According to the latest study one out of every four children lives in poverty. That is about 560,000 kids in Michigan.
"Yeah there are kids going hungry right now. There are kids going hungry in terms of not having food on the table or not having enough food on the table at meal time," says Gray
The problem with poverty is that once you are there, it is quite difficult to get out of it. "That is one of the more alarming trends that we continue to grapple with. How do we help those families get out of poverty?" says Gray.
The study does offer some solutions:
- Restore the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent of the federal credit. The Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder cut the state EITC to 6 percent in 2011.
- Expand eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to provide health care to low-income parents and individuals.
Make training for low-skilled adults a priority in the state budget.
- Increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation.
Add reasonable exemptions to time limits for cash assistance and lift the asset test for food assistance.
- The biggest barrier for these or any ideas to be implemented right now is political will.
"There is no one easy answer. It is why we struggle with issues like poverty because it isn't black and white and it isn't simple," explains Gray.
While there are no easy solutions to child poverty, it is important to point out that just donating food isn't going to solve the real problem.
For a link to the full kids count report, visit www.kidsreport.org.