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, “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…”

Working Households and Basic Needs – Michigan

Report: 4 in 10 Michigan households struggle to make ends meet, By Emily Lawler, August 31, 2014, MLive: “Jessie Robinson got her paycheck last week, and started the process of deciding which bills to pay. ‘I am constantly going through all of the bills and figuring which stuff is going to be turned off first and paying those bills first,’ Robinson said. Her family is one of 40 percent of households in the state that despite working, doesn’t have enough money to pay for basic needs according to a new report from United Way. The report measures the state’s 2012 ‘ALICE’ households; an acronym for those that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed…”

Budget Cuts – Michigan

State’s health budget trims funding for infant mortality, public aid, By Kathleen Gray and Robin Erb, June 11, 2014, Detroit Free Press: “Harper and Hutzel hospitals lost out on $6.5 million in state money to help fund their infant mortality and high-risk pregnancy programs in Detroit, when the Department of Community Health budget was approved by a conference committee Tuesday without the funding. In addition, the Department of Human Services saw $287.6 million in cuts to the money it’s spending on public assistance for poor Michiganders as the economy recovers and more people reach the 48-month limit for benefits and are kicked off welfare rolls. These are the cuts that hurt the most vulnerable people, said social service advocates at a time when the state’s unemployment rate still remains among the nation’s highest at 7.4% and poverty rates are increasing, especially among children. . .”

Minimum Wage – Michigan

Michigan becomes seventh state this year to raise minimum wage, By Eric Morath, May 28, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “Michigan has become the first Republican-controlled state to join a recent wave of local minimum-wage increases, marking a potential shift in the battle over the issue heading into the November elections. Lawmakers on Tuesday approved an increase to $9.25 an hour from $7.40 by 2018 in Michigan, setting one of the highest pay floors in the Midwest. The deal was an effort to quash a potential ballot proposal for a larger increase that also would have nearly quadrupled mandated pay for tipped restaurant workers. The maneuver suggests Republicans at the state level may be willing to accept smaller, more tailored minimum-wage increases to blunt demand . . .”

Medicaid Expansion – Michigan

Medicaid enrollment to open April 1 despite early roadblocks, By Robin Erb, March 20, 2014, Detroit Free Press: “Michigan’s long-awaited new Medicaid program — one that may extend health care coverage to 470,000 people — will open as planned at 12:01 a.m. April 1, despite bureaucratic and technical frustrations that had left thousands wondering whether the promise of the 2010 Affordable Care Act had left them behind. Expecting a heavy first burst of applications, offices for the Michigan Department of Human Services will extend hours during the first days and phone lines will open from 8 a.m. to midnight to accept applications to the program, called Healthy Michigan…”

High School Graduation Rate – Michigan

  • Michigan’s 4-year high school graduation rate rises to nearly 77%, By Jennifer Chambers, February 27, 2014, Detroit News: “Graduation rates in Michigan are increasing, with the statewide four-year graduation rate for the high school class of 2013 reaching 76.96 percent, up 0.7 percentage points from 2012, according to the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information. At the same time, the 2013 state dropout rate is down 0.17 percentage points, to 10.54 percent…”
  • High school graduation rates up in Lansing, statewide, By Kathleen Lavey, February 27, 2014, Lansing State Journal: “While the statewide high school graduation rate was up slightly in 2013, Lansing officials were celebrating significant increases at Eastern and Everett high schools and a small uptick at Sexton…”

Child Welfare System – Michigan

  • Ex-foster children help push for more accountability from system, By Robin Erb, February 27, 2014, Detroit Free Press: “Kamille Tynes finds herself in a place she never expected to be: representing a department she said failed her repeatedly, pushing for a new way for Michigan to demand more accountability from the foster care system. Michigan could join a national movement to offer more pay and bigger contracts to agencies that best serve families and children — and eventually dump the agencies that fail…”
  • Michigan’s child welfare system would be more transparent, accountable under new funding plan, By Melissa Anders, February 27, 2014, Mlive: “Michigan plans to change the way it funds child welfare, favoring a system based on performance and outcomes instead of a daily rate for foster care and adoption services. And children would be served by just one provider who would be held accountable for each child’s outcome, rather than having multiple caseworkers…”

Kids Count Report – Michigan

  • Michigan report shows a 7-year, 53% hike in child food assistance, By Ursula Watson, December 17, 2013, Detroit News: “Michigan experienced a 53 percent increase in the rate of young children who qualified for federal food assistance between 2005 and 2012, according to a study on child health released today. The annual Kids Count in Michigan report found more than 1 in every 3 children (37 percent) qualified for nutritional help because their families were living on less than $31,000 a year for a two-parent, two-child family…”
  • Kids Count: Child poverty in Michigan increasing, teen pregnancy on the decline, By Brian Smith, December 17, 2013, MLive: “The percentage of Michigan children receiving food assistance and free or reduced school lunches has increased since 2005, but teen pregnancy rates are on the decline, according to the latest data from Kids Count. The number of children living in poverty increased even as the state’s overall child population decreased since 2005, the report released today stated. Media outlets were provided access to the report prior to its public release. More than 556,000 children under the age of 17, or almost one-quarter of Michigan children, live in poverty, and more than 36 percent of children under the age of five are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps…”

Affordable Care Act and Medicaid

  • In rural Kentucky, health-care debate takes back seat as the long-uninsured line up, By Stephanie McCrummen, November 23, 2013, Washington Post: “On the campaign trail, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was still blasting the new health-care law as unsalvageable. At the White House, President Obama was still apologizing for the botched federal Web site. But in a state where the rollout has gone smoothly, and in a county that is one of the poorest and unhealthiest in the country, Courtney Lively has been busy signing people up: cashiers from the IGA grocery, clerks from the dollar store, workers from the lock factory, call-center agents, laid-off coal miners, KFC cooks, Chinese green-card holders in town to teach Appalachian students…”
  • Medicaid expansion’s tale of two states: Kentucky ‘haves’ vs. Indiana ‘have-nots’, By Laura Unger, December 1, 2013, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Lorinda Fox of New Albany, Ind., hasn’t been to a doctor since her last child was born 21 years ago. Poor and uninsured, she treats her illnesses with over-the-counter remedies. At age 58, she knows she’s taking chances with her health, especially since she recently began having heart palpitations and chest pain. ‘I’ll do the same thing I always do — gut it out,’ said Fox, who lives with her hearing-impaired daughter and earns about $12,000 a year working in retail. ‘I don’t know what else I can do.’ If Fox lived in Kentucky, she would qualify for expanded Medicaid next year under the Affordable Care Act. But she lives in a state where she makes too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid, and politicians have chosen not to expand Medicaid as Obamacare intended, contending that Indiana taxpayers can’t afford it…”
  • Michigan embraces Medicaid expansion to help inmates, By Guy Gugliotta, November 30, 2013, Washington Post: “When Medicaid expands next year under the federal health-care law to include all adults living close to the poverty line, one group of eligible beneficiaries will be several million men and women who have spent time in state and federal prisons and jails. The Justice Department estimates that former inmates and detainees will constitute about 35 percent of the people who will qualify for Medicaid coverage in the states expanding their programs to anyone earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,000 for an individual in 2013. The Congressional Budget Office estimated earlier this year that 9 million people will get the new coverage next year…”

Health Tax Credits – Michigan

Report: 436,000 Michiganders could be eligible for Obamacare tax credits next year, By Melissa Anders, November 5, 2013, MLive: “An estimated 436,000 Michiganders will be eligible for health insurance tax credits next year, but far fewer are expected to use them, according to a new report. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates 725,000 Michigan residents could purchase plans on the federally run health insurance marketplace that launched Oct. 1 as part of the Affordable Care Act. Of those, about 436,000 would be eligible for tax credits, according to a report released Tuesday. Nationally, only about 35 percent of those eligible for tax credits are expected to sign up and use them in 2014, based on estimates from Kaiser and the Congressional Budget Office. Participation can vary by state, depending on public outreach and system problems with the online marketplace, said Gary Claxton, a vice president at Kaiser Family Foundation…”

Low-Income Students in Public Schools

  • Almost half of Michigan public school students living in low-income households, study shows, By Brian Smith, October 20, 2013, MLive: “A new study shows that 46 percent of Michigan’s public school children live in low-income households, part of an increasing trend nationwide.The study, published by the Southern Education Foundation, found that a majority of public school students across the Southeast and West live in low-income households, defined in the study as households eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch program.Mississippi had the highest percentage, at 71 percent of all public school children, followed closely by New Mexico, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas…”
  • Study sounds alarm over percentage of low-income students in public schools, By Karen McVeigh, October 17, 2013, The Guardian: “For the first time since the 1960s, a majority of the children in public schools in the South and West of the United States come from families living below, at or not far above the poverty line, according to a new study. The study’s findings are part of a trend that is set to continue across the nation. While the percentage of low-income students in public schools has grown across the nation over the last 20 years, there are now 17 states in which they represent the majority. Thirteen of those states are in the South; four are in the West…”

Public Benefit Rules – Michigan

  • State Senate bills would set tougher rules for people on public assistance, By Kathleen Gray, October 17, 2013, Detroit Free Press: “The writing appears to be on the wall for those receiving public benefits in Michigan as two packages of bills aimed at tightening restrictions on those receiving unemployment or cash assistance from the state appear likely headed for Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. Many Republican legislators and their allies hailed the bills as a way to cut down on malfeasance. Many Democratic legislators and their backers, however, characterized the measures as punishing the already disadvantaged. The GOP holds solid majorities in the state House and Senate.  The bills deal with a host of issues: some dictating where those getting cash assistance can use their debit-like Bridge cards; others targeting unemployment benefits fraud, including one bill that seeks to deny unemployment benefits to potential employees — public and private — who either refused to take a drug test or tested positive for drugs…”
  • Michigan Senate OK’s plan to cut off benefits for unemployed residents who fail drug tests, By Jonathan Oosting, October 17, 2013, MLive: “residents who fail or refuse to take a drug test required by a prospective employer could lose jobless benefits under a pilot program advanced Thursday by Michigan’s Republican-led state Senate. The measure, approved largely along party lines in a 28-10 vote, would treat failure or refusal to take a pre-employment drug test as proof that an individual “refused an offer of suitable work.” But it would not require businesses to report results of drug tests unless they choose to…”

States and the Affordable Care Act

  • Without Medicaid expansion, no insurance for 500,000 in N.C., By John Murawski and Karen Garloch, October 12, 2013, Charlotte News and Observer: “The last time Dee Baginski worked was 2-1/2 years ago as a manager for Walmart. Then a car wreck and cancer diagnosis slammed the door on ‘a whole life in retail management.’ Now, at age 54 and two surgeries later, Baginski finds herself at an Urban Ministries of Durham homeless shelter – uninsured and applying for disability. Her former $28,000-a-year job today seems like an unattainable dream. While Baginski’s reversal of fortune is beyond anyone’s control, the fate of her health care rests in the hands of North Carolina politicians. She is among a half-million state residents who would have been eligible for Medicaid in January had officials here opted to expand that government program for the poor and disabled…”
  • W.Va. to benefit more from ACA than most other states, By Paul J. Nyden, October 12, 2013, Charleston Gazette-Mail: “West Virginians will see more benefits from the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, than residents of almost any other state, according to a new study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In West Virginia 81 percent of currently uninsured residents will receive some sort of financial help in getting health insurance, either through Medicaid or through subsidies in the health insurance marketplace, the study found. That number is tied with Michigan and Kentucky for the highest in the nation…”
  • Ohio gains federal approval to expand its Medicaid program to cover state’s working poor, By Robert Higgs, October 11, 2013, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “The federal government has granted Ohio authority to expand its Medicaid program to provide health coverage to the state’s working poor, an authorization that would be worth more than $1 billion to the state in its first year. The notification, received Thursday, would allow the state to increase eligibility to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, adding an estimated 275,000 Ohioans beginning Jan. 1…”
  • 146,000 Michiganders – at least – face loss of cheaper policies under new health care reform rules, By Robin Erb, October 14, 2013, Detroit Free Press: “At least 146,000 Michiganders — and possibly thousands more — with health coverage purchased directly from insurers now are learning their polices will end Dec. 31 because they don’t meet the minimum requirements of the federal health care act. Under the law, each policy must cover essential benefits in 10 categories. Instead of beefing up these policies, insurers are opting to drop them, advising consumers to consider other policies that are now available either from the insurers directly or though the Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the state exchange.The policies that are ending were often less expensive on the individual market because they provided limited benefits and were sold to healthier consumers…”
  • Local health care changes limited so far, doctors say, By Bill Dries, October 15, 2013, Memphis Daily News: “The Oct. 1 start of enrollment in health care exchanges may be the most visible part of the Affordable Care Act so far. But changes to insurance and health care nationally already are about something other than lowering health care costs or widening access to health care and health insurance coverage…”

Child Welfare System – Michigan

Kent County developing model to privatize foster care; state may follow plan, By Rick Wilson, October 11, 2013, Grand Rapids Press: “Kent County is on its way to being the first entity in the state to completely privatize child welfare services – possibly creating a model for the rest of Michigan – with the hope of improving the lives of children in the foster care system. The plan, outlined during a Thursday, Oct. 10 presentation to the county commission, is based on streamlining services for abuse and neglected children by relaying on the five private, non-profit agencies that already provides foster care in the county…”

Home Energy Assistance – Michigan

Michigan delays heat aid, to help before shutoff, By David Eggert, October 7, 2013, Detroit News: “Michigan residents needing help with their utility bills as the weather cools must wait until November to apply, a change that coincides with an effort to keep customers from waiting to ask for assistance until facing a service shutoff. From Nov. 1 through May 31, people will qualify for help when they get a past-due notice and no longer have to wait until they accumulate so many warnings that their utilities could be cut off. Until now, residents had been able to apply for assistance year-round, often in October with the start of the new state budget…”