Kids Count Report Shows More Children in MI are Living in Poverty

By: Jennifer Dowling Email
By: Jennifer Dowling Email

The kids who use the summer program at the Cristo Rey Community Center are involved in 8 weeks of athletic activities and field trips. They also get breakfast and lunch for free. Most would go without if the program didn't exist. The Executive Director of the community center, John Roy Castillo, says, "Most of the people we have here are the working poor, so they don't have any other way to be in the summertime or keep the kids busy."

Some of the kids are part of some startling new statistics released from the Kids Count program in Michigan. Numbers show there's been a 36% jump in the number of Michigan's children living in poverty from 2000 to 2007. Project Director of Kids Count in Michigan, Jane Zehnder-Merrell says, "One in five Michigan children live in poverty and for a family of four, that's an income of $21,000 a year."

In fact, the percentage of kids living in poverty went up from 14% in 2000 to 19% statewide in 2007. In Ingham and Jackson County, the numbers are worse than the state average. Jackson sits at 21% and Ingham is at 22%. Zehnder-Merrell says, "It could be that the employment of GM, the dwindling of good manufacturing jobs might be at play here."

Castillo says from his work at the community center, he knows that kids in that kind of poverty get in trouble more often if they don't have positive things to do. He says, "The negative impact four our kids in this neighborhood is that if they don't have any place to go, they'll be out in the street."

The folks at the community center say they'll keep doing what they can to help. Zehnder-Merrell says brace for bigger poverty numbers for kids to be reported after 2007 because the economy has worsened since then.

Michigan ranks 34th in the nation for its percentage of kids in poverty.


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  • by Jason Location: Jackson on Jul 30, 2009 at 12:32 PM
    Yeah times are tough, no doubt. But what strikes me funny is the fact that in some of these households, these kids go with out their basic needs fulfilled, while the parents have their new shoes, liquor, smokes, tattoos, piercings, sometimes crack and weed, etc. I've seen young kids go to school without boots for recess in the winter, yet their parents have nice new clothes, tons of piercings and tattoos. So where's the money really going?? I'd say blame a large portion of the problem on the economy, but some of the young parents these days are to blame too. When you're laid off, besides collecting an unemployment check, you do whatever you can to make extra money, mowing lawns, helping on local farms, whatever. Then you take that money and invest it in your #1 which is your kids. Don't drink it or put it in your crack pipe.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 30, 2009 at 07:10 AM
    Maybe many have became PROVERTY.JOB LOSS now the cause.Unemployment ran out and no jobs to be found.21,000 for a family of 4.meets guidlines.Try living on that.Due to the high costs of so many things.The government housing program is a joke and thoes places are not much.Rents are already to high and as more properties get forclosed and people move out.Yet real estate prices remain to high for the dying economy of mich.The more people got in wages,prices of homes,food costs ect the more they wanted.Well see what want and high prices have done.Rental properties can go up as much as they want,don't mean people will pay that much.Let thoes homes set right along with thoes high priced homes for sale.It will just cause more homeless people.Homeless children in families.Not right.Welfare don't pay high rent for folks so-Food cards don't cover cost of good healthy food for a family.Food banks get less to help families with food.Don't worry someday many will know proverty.Sign of the times.
  • by Jimmy Location: Jackson on Jul 29, 2009 at 08:51 AM
    Watch each day, more and more houses are going on the for sale market, and their owners are moving into rental property. Next rental properties will go sky hi, and this state has our beloved 'Gen' to thank!!! My hope is that someday she has to tighten her belt and see what the real world is like, not her over paid one.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 29, 2009 at 08:50 AM
    The defination of poverty is too high if over half the state is qualified for welfare.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 29, 2009 at 05:29 AM
    With all the families loosing jobs what else could happen?Thoes on fixed incomes aren't doing well either because so many prices have went up in many areas.This proverty problem is going on ALL over mich.Alot of areas don't have any way of helping anyone.
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