Study: Michigan last in well-being of black children

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

African-American children in Michigan fare worse on key indicators of well-being than in any other state in the nation, according to a national study released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The study measured children’s progress on key education, health and economic milestones by racial and ethnic groups, and compared how they’re doing overall with composite scores that range from 1 to 1,000, with 1,000 being the most favorable score.

The report, 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, found that Michigan kids are struggling overall, but the disparities are greatest for African-American youngsters.

White children in Michigan scored 667 on the composite index, lower than the national average of 713. The tally for African-American children was 260, far below the national average of 369 for that group, and the lowest score in the nation for African-American children.

“At a time when racial tensions are running high in our nation, our government and our society we are letting these kids down and leaving them behind,” Alice Thompson, CEO of Black Family Development Inc., said in a press release Tuesday.

“We need to help all kids move up together, and we’re going to need an overhaul of our policy approach to do that.”

Latino children in Michigan also lag behind on key milestones, compared with children from other ethnic groups, but fared above average compared with Latino kids in other states, the study found. Michigan’s Latino children scored 446 on the index, compared with a national average score of 429 for the group. Scores for Latino children were below 500 in the vast majority of states.

Other ethnic groups in Michigan scored higher than the national average. The score for American Indian/Alaska Native children in Michigan was 511, compared with 413 nationally. And Asian and Pacific Islander kids in the state scored 804 overall in Michigan, compared with 783 nationally.

Immigrant families are doing relatively well, but the study found that not all groups have the same experiences, according to the report. Some immigrant groups struggle more than others with housing, financial security, education and language barriers, according to the report.

“Seeing how our kids in Michigan fare compared to national numbers is startling,” Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy, said in a press release Tuesday.

“We are failing all of our children, especially our kids of color, and we need policies to remove barriers that have created systemic inequities.”