Working Households and Basic Needs – Michigan

Report: Michigan makes little progress in lifting working poor to financial stability, By Lindsay VanHulle, April 4, 2017, Crain’s Detroit Business: “To make ends meet as a four-person family in Michigan, with a child in preschool and a baby at home, it’s practically mandatory that both parents work full time and make at least $14 per hour each. A single breadwinner in that same family would have to make at least $28 per hour. And that’s just to afford basic living needs, like housing, child care, transportation and medical bills. Yet Michigan’s job market is disproportionately made up of low-wage jobs — 62 percent of the state’s jobs in 2015 paid less than $20 per hour, according to new research on the state’s working poor to be released Tuesday by the Michigan Association of United Ways…”

Earned Income Tax Credit

  • Detroiters leave $80 million unclaimed for tax credit, By Susan Tompor, January 29, 2017, Detroit Free Press: “The Earned Income Tax Credit is one big bonus check for Michigan’s struggling workforce. The credit is a one-time shot of potentially thousands of dollars that can be used to pay bills, put money down on a used car or even, maybe, save a little something for a rainy day or retirement.  It’s sort of like those big profit-sharing checks for many autoworkers that are ranging from $5,000 at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to $9,000 on average at Ford.  But you must file a tax return to get that tax-credit cash. And plenty of people don’t file for one reason or another…”
  • Gov. Scott Walker to expand low-income tax credit he once cut, By Jason Stein and Patrick Marley, February 1, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker is reversing course on a key tax credit for the working poor, proposing to raise incomes for more than 130,000 state families by returning the more than $20 million a year he cut from the program in 2011.  The Republican governor will unveil the proposal at the Wauwatosa Rotary Club Wednesday as part of a broader package in his budget bill that aims to strengthen families and marriage. The measure marks the changing priorities for Walker as he shifts from the budget cuts of his first term to his current goal of trying to draw Wisconsinites into the work force…”

Medicaid Expansion – Michigan

  • Snyder fights for Medicaid plan in Obamacare repeal, By Jonathan Oosting, January 4, 2017, Detroit News: “Gov. Rick Snyder wants Republican President-elect Donald Trump and the GOP-led Congress to spare Michigan’s unique form of Medicaid expansion as they consider dismantling the Affordable Care Act, calling it a ‘successful’ program that could serve as a national model.  Trump has repeatedly vowed to repeal and replace ‘Obamacare’ but has not made clear whether he wants to pull back state funding for expanded Medicaid eligibility. It is a key but costly provision of the 2010 law that has allowed millions of low-income residents to qualify for government-paid health care coverage…”
  • U-M study shows benefits of Michigan expanding Medicaid, By Kathleen Gray, January 4, 2017, Detroit Free Press: “Even though the state’s bills for the expansion of Medicaid to more than 640,000 low-income Michiganders is growing from $152 million this year to $399 million in 2021, the economic benefit of providing the health care will more than make up for the cost to the state, according to a study released Wednesday by the University of Michigan…”

Kalamazoo Promise Program

Did free college save this city?, By Simon Montlake, December 17, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Tracy Zarei has wanted to teach children ever since she was in the second grade. She knew she would have to go to college to become a teacher.  ‘She was a straight-A student,’ says her mother, Sheri, who was working double shifts in a nursing home to pay rent on their mobile home. ‘She cried when she got her first B.’  Then one day Tracy’s world shifted. When her mother returned home from work, Tracy handed her a note. ‘She said, ‘Mom, you’re going to be disappointed,’ ‘ recalls Sheri, who thought it must be a traffic ticket. Instead it was a positive pregnancy test. Antonio Jr. was born in March 2005. Tracy was a junior in high school.  For many teenage mothers, this is when school ends and hardship begins. By age 22, only half of all single mothers in the United States receive a high school diploma, compared with 90 percent of their peers…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Michigan

Court: Michigan stiffed deserving people out of food aid, By Tresa Baldas, August 26, 2016, Detroit Free Press: “Over and over again, the computer rejected their names — and automatically cut off their food stamps.  Walter Barry, a 46-year-old mentally disabled Detroit man who lives with his mother, lost his public assistance when his name turned up in a fugitive database: His brother had stolen his name and used it as an alias when he was arrested about 25 years ago.  Identity theft victim Donitha Copeland, a onetime homeless woman, lost her food benefits when her name showed up in the same database: There was an outstanding warrant for her arrest for writing bad checks in Kalamazoo, though she had never been there…”

Internet Access and Unemployment – Detroit, MI

Unemployed Detroit residents are trapped by a digital divide, By Cecilia Kang, May 22, 2016, New York Times: “In downtown Detroit, start-ups and luxury retailers are opening up and new office buildings are being built as the city works to recover from its deep economic problems. Six miles to the north, in the neighborhood of Hope Village, residents like Eric Hill are trying to participate in that progress but are running into hurdles. His difficulties were apparent on a recent Tuesday when he entered a crowded public library to use the computers to look for a new job. With no Internet service at home or on his mobile phone, Mr. Hill had few options to search work listings or file online job applications after losing his stocking job at a pharmacy five months ago…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Michigan

About 1 in 7 Michigan residents get food stamps, and 6 other facts about SNAP, By Julie Mack, May 23, 2016, MLive.com: “Nearly one of every seven Michigan residents — including one in four Michigan children — currently receive food stamp benefits, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, saw usage spike during the recent recession but the numbers are now down steadily declining…”

Concentrated Poverty – Detroit, MI

Detroit has highest concentrated poverty rate among top 25 metro areas, By Niraj Warikoo, April 26, 2016, Detroit Free Press: “Two new reports show that the poor in metro Detroit face unique challenges compared to other parts of the U.S., making it more difficult for them to escape poverty. A study recently released by the Brookings Institution says that metro Detroit has the highest rate of concentrated poverty among the top 25 metro areas in the U.S. by population…”

Kids Count Report – Michigan

  • Michigan’s child poverty rate climbed 23 percent from 2006 to 2014, By Brian McVicar, March 21, 2016, MLive: “Nearly one in four Michigan children live in poverty, a way of life that impacts everything from their health and education to their future employment and economic security, according to a report released today.  The report, from the Michigan League for Public Policy, shows that Michigan’s 2014 poverty rate was 22.6 percent, down from a peak of 24.7 percent in 2012…”
  • Child poverty rates rose in Lansing area, group says, By Ken Palmer, March 22, 2016, Lansing State Journal: “The number of children living in poverty in the Lansing area continues to rise along with most of the rest of the state, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy.  Nearly 24 percent of Ingham County children were living in poverty in 2014, up from 21.5 percent in 2006, according the 2016 Kids Count report released Monday by the nonpartisan institute based in Lansing. Child poverty rose in 80 of Michigan’s 83 counties over that period, with more than one in five Michigan children living below the poverty line in 2014, the report said…”
  • Report: Child poverty rate climbs in Metro Detroit, By Nicquel Terry, March 21, 2016, Detroit News: “Child poverty is on the rise, with all three Metro Detroit counties showing an increase over the past eight years, according to data released Monday by the Michigan League for Public Policy. The data, published in the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2016, revealed that Macomb County had the biggest jump among counties between 2006 and 2014, with an 8 percent increase…”

State Medicaid Programs – Iowa, Michigan

  • Feds tell Iowa: Delay Medicaid privatization by 60 days, By Tony Leys, December 18, 2015, Des Moines Register: “Federal administrators have ordered Iowa to wait at least 60 days before shifting its Medicaid program to private management.  The delay, announced Thursday, will affect 560,000 poor or disabled Iowans who receive health care under the $4 billion program. Gov. Terry Branstad has been pushing to transfer Medicaid management to national, for-profit companies on Jan. 1.  The governor says the shift would save money and provide more flexible benefits. But federal officials have heard from hundreds of Iowa critics who say Branstad is courting chaos by rushing to make the switch before the managed-care companies are ready…”
  • Feds approve Medicaid waiver for Michigan, By Karen Bouffard and Melissa Nann Burke, December 17, 2015, Detroit News: “More than a half million Michigan residents will get to keep their expanded Medicaid health insurance next year and beyond after the federal government Thursday approved the final waiver required under state law.  Under terms approved Thursday by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, starting in April 2018 about 110,000 participants in the Healthy Michigan Plan will be required to adopt healthier behaviors or be kicked off the expanded Medicaid program…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

  • Lead paint: Despite progress, hundreds of Maryland children still poisoned, By Timothy B. Wheeler and Luke Broadwater, December 5, 2015, Baltimore Sun: “There’s a huge hole in the kitchen ceiling of the rowhouse Olivia Griffin rents in West Baltimore. Rain leaks in through the roof, the lights in a bedroom don’t work, and standing water fills one end of the basement.  The 27-year-old mother’s biggest worry, though, is the flaking, peeling paint inside and out — and the dangerously high level of lead in the blood of her 1-year-old daughter, Lyric. Two of her other three children have lower but still potentially harmful levels in their blood as well.  Lead poisoning, once epidemic among Baltimore’s poor, is much less common than it used to be, with the number of new city cases dropping by 86 percent since 2002. But it is still claiming young victims years after authorities vowed to eradicate it. At least 4,900 Maryland children have been poisoned by lead in the past decade, their brains exposed to a contaminant that causes lasting learning and behavioral problems. There are likely more victims, because not all children are tested…”
  • In Flint and beyond, lead remains irreversible scourge among Michigan’s children, By Mike Wilkinson, December 13, 2015, MLive.com: “Across Michigan, in cities large and small, lead poisoning continues to plague children, limiting them in school and on the playground.  Although much of the state’s focus has been on lead-poisoned water in Flint, the metal continues to turn up annually in the bodies of thousands of children across the state, at percentages well above the numbers that raised red flags in Flint…”

Community Scholarship – Michigan

Report: How one poor, rural Michigan town is sending ‘all its kids to college’, By Brian McVicar, August 19, 2015, Grand Rapids Press: “Baldwin, a small community in rural Lake County, is making national headlines after The Atlantic took an in-depth look at a community scholarship that aims to send every high school graduate, many of whom are low-income, to college. The piece tells the story of the Baldwin Promise, which provides up to $5,000 per-year for students to attend college, and the big impact the fund is having not only on college access, but on changing the community’s perception of higher education…”

Child Welfare Systems – Michigan, Arizona

  • Michigan foster care ‘a persistent and dire problem’, By Justin A. Hinkley, July 2, 2015, Lansing State Journal: “A girl was injured during an unsupervised visit with the parents she’d been taken away from. Kids with a history of inappropriate sexual behavior were placed in homes with younger children. A child ran away and police weren’t notified for days. A decade ago, the death of Williamston 7-year-old Ricky Holland at the hands of his adoptive parents revealed fatal flaws in the state’s safeguards for foster kids. Seven years ago, a class-action lawsuit in federal court mandated improvements.  Still, Michigan continues to fail hundreds of kids a year, court-appointed monitors say…”
  • Foster care will not be privatized, officials say, By Justin A. Hinkley, June 29, 2015, Lansing State Journal: “Despite official statements to the contrary, state employees and some private providers suspect Michigan is working toward fully outsourcing foster care services in the state. Currently, the more than 12,000 foster care cases in Michigan are split about evenly between private providers and the more than 700 foster care workers at the state Department of Health & Human Services. The division varies by county, but state employees and others look to Kent County — where recent legislation fully privatized foster care case management and established a pilot program for a performance-based funding model — as one of several clues that 100% outsourcing is coming down the pike…”
  • Arizona child-safety agency struggles with staff turnover, rising child removals, By Mary Jo Pitzl, June 28, 2015, Arizona Republic: “A year ago Arizona’s governor and a united Legislature agreed that to save the state’s troubled child-welfare agency, it had to be razed and rebuilt.  They pulled the child-welfare office out of the mammoth state Department of Economic Security and made it a stand-alone agency that reports directly to the governor. They also boosted its budget by $94 million to give it the firepower to reduce a backlog of 13,000 reports of child abuse and neglect, as well as to hire more caseworkers for the increasing number of new reports. And they made transparency a key criteria to hold the agency accountable…”

Unemployment Insurance Benefits – Michigan

Report: State’s unemployment cuts cost up to $6,118 per person, By Maureen Groppe, June 2, 2015, Lansing State Journal: “Michiganders who are out of work more than 20 weeks could lose as much as $6,118 in unemployment insurance benefits because of program cuts the state made four years ago, according to a federal report. Michigan was the first state in 2011 to reduce the maximum time the unemployed could receive state-funded benefits. Eight other states followed suit…”

Kids Count Reports – Michigan, Indiana, Iowa

  • Saginaw County above state averages for child poverty, low birth weight, child abuse investigations, Kids Count 2015 reports, By Heather Jordan, February 19, 2015, MLive: “When it comes to the overall well-being of Michigan children, Saginaw County ranked 59th of 82, with No. 1 being the best.  Saginaw County has a greater percentage of young children who are eligible for food assistance than the state average, a greater percentage of low birth weight babies than the state average, a higher rate of children living in families investigated for abuse or neglect than the state average and a greater percentage of students who did not graduate high school on time than the state average.  All of this is according to the 2015 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book released Thursday, Feb. 19, by the Michigan League for Public Policy…”
  • Data: Indiana has highest rate in U.S. of teens who considered suicide, By Marisa Kwiatkowski, February 17, 2015, Indianapolis Star: “Indiana has the highest rate in the country of teens who have considered suicide and the second-highest rate of those who attempted it, according to a report from the Indiana Youth Institute.  The Institute’s ‘2015 Kids Count in Indiana data book,’ which was released Monday, pulled data from hundreds of national and state sources to analyze the state of Hoosier children and families. It tackled concerns such as a high rate of teen drug use, a low student-to-school counselor ratio and the fact that 22 percent of Indiana children live in poverty…”
  • Mixed results for Iowa’s children in Iowa Kids Count Report, By Chelsea Keenan and Andrew Phillips, February 11, 2015, The Gazette: “The health and education of Iowa’s children has generally improved since 2000, according to the 2013 Iowa Kids Count report. But the economic well-being that their families face has not.  The report, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has data looking at 20 different indicators of child and family well-being, including child poverty, food assistance, high school graduation rates and teen births.  It also provides data on a county, state and national level as well as compares rural with urban areas…”

Achievement Gap – Michigan

6 facts about Michigan’s low-income students and 6 interventions proven to work, By Julie Mack, February 3, 2015, MLive.com: “The achievement gap between middle-class and low-income students is readily evident when looking at Michigan’s test scores, graduation rates and other academic outcomes. For instance, Michigan fourth-graders from low-income families were only half as likely to test proficient in math in 2013-14 compared to their middle-class and affluent peers. In the Class of 2013 at Michigan’s public high schools, 87 percent of middle-class and affluent students graduated on time compared to 64 percent from low-income households. The challenges associated with educating low-income children forms the basis of a new ranking of Michigan schools, based on a formula that compares test scores to percent of the school population eligible for the federal subsidized lunch program…”

State Welfare Programs – Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Michigan

  • Participation in ‘workfare’ fell sharply in Mass., study finds, By Megan Woolhouse, January 22, 2015, Boston Globe: “Massachusetts has the nation’s lowest participation of welfare recipients working to receive their benefits, undermining one of the key reforms that was intended to move people from public assistance to self-sufficiency, according to a study to be released Thursday by a conservative Beacon Hill think tank. Only 7.3 percent of people receiving welfare benefits in the state held jobs in fiscal 2011, the most recent year for which data were available, according to the Pioneer Institute. That’s roughly one-fourth the national average of about 30 percent…”
  • Walker budget to bar drug users from food stamps, Medicaid, By Jason Stein, January 22, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With federal approval in doubt, Gov. Scott Walker is moving ahead with his campaign pledge to ensure that drug users aren’t getting public health care, food stamp or jobless benefits. As Walker explores a 2016 presidential bid, the proposal being included in the governor’s Feb. 3 budget bill will help him sell himself to GOP primary voters as a leader committed to overhauling the core programs of government. For the first time Thursday, Walker committed to drug testing recipients of BadgerCare Plus health coverage and also pledged free treatment and job training for those testing positive for drugs…”
  • Snyder’s welfare plan needs ‘mother of all waivers’, By Chad Livengood, January 22, 2015, Detroit News: “Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday the federal government may need to grant Michigan ‘the mother of all waivers’ for his administration to redesign some 145 different social services programs. Snyder’s ambitious ‘river of opportunity’ agenda that he unveiled Tuesday in his State of the State address may involve a complex untangling of a federally financed state bureaucracy for the governor to make government programs more ‘people centric’ instead of program-driven…”

College Affordability – Michigan

Low-income students seeing huge cost hikes at some Michigan universities, By Ron French, January 5, 2015, MLive: “Michigan’s poorest college students are bearing the brunt of cost increases at some state public universities, decreasing the chances Michigan’s most vulnerable students will earn degrees. Over a recent four-year period, six of the state’s 15 public universities increased the net cost of attendance for their poorest students ‒ those from families earning less than $30,000 a year ‒ more than for their wealthier classmates…”

Drug Testing and Public Assistance Programs

Drug-testing welfare recipients: War on drugs or war on the poor?, By Husna Haq, December 11, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “The Michigan Senate Wednesday approved legislation that would require welfare recipients undergo drug testing, a controversial policy that’s created a contentious debate. While supporters say the Republican-backed legislation targets drug use and encourages responsible public spending, critics say it is unconstitutional, humiliating, and wasteful…”

Drug Testing and Public Assistance Programs

  • Kansas is testing few welfare recipients for drugs, By Brad Cooper, December 1, 2014, Kansas City Star: “Drug-testing welfare applicants often gets the knock that it costs so much and catches so few. In Kansas, drug testing catches so few because it’s testing so few. After its first four months, a new Kansas law for testing welfare applicants for drugs is off to a sluggish start, only testing 20 applicants. Four tested positive. Five others refused the test. The law, passed by the Legislature in 2013, took effect July 1. It was billed as a way of weaning the less affluent off drugs, getting them treatment and job training and helping them out of poverty…”
  • Court rejects Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s drug testing of welfare applicants, By Mary Ellen Klas, December 3, 2014, Miami Herald: “A federal appeals court on Wednesday dealt another blow to Gov. Rick Scott’s crusade to conduct drug tests on welfare applicants when it upheld a lower court ruling that the practice was unconstitutional. The unanimous ruling from a bipartisan panel of judges concluded that the state failed to show any evidence as to why it was necessary to force applicants seeking Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to surrender their constitutional rights as a condition of receiving the aid…”
  • Welfare drug testing pilot program approved by Michigan House, By Jonathan Oosting, December 3, 2014, MLive: “The Michigan House on Wednesday approved a long-discussed pilot program that would mandate suspicion-based drug testing for welfare recipients, who could lose cash benefits for failing more than one test. The two-bill package, approved by the Senate in an earlier form but now awaiting final concurrence, would require the Michigan Department of Human Services to launch a one-year pilot program in at least three counties beginning by October 2015…”