Michigan continues to be ranked in the bottom half of U.S. states for child well-being, according to the latest Kids Count Data Book.
This year’s report highlights how a lack of affordable and accessible child care is forcing many parents to frequently miss work or even quit their jobs, while those who can find care are paying dearly for it.
Anne Kuhnen, Kids Count director for the Michigan League for Public Policy, said child care challenges cost the American economy billions of dollars a year, which affects some of the other rankings as well.
“Michigan continues to be ranked in the bottom half of states in all areas of child well-being,” Kuhnen observed. “The report specifically looks at economic security, at health, and at family and community factors. We again did fall in the bottom half of states; we were weakest in education.”
Michigan ranked 42nd in education, 30th in family and community, and 32nd in economic well-being. It was 26th in health, and the state was fourth-best in the country for the rate of children with health insurance.
The Data Book reports too many parents cannot find child care compatible with their work schedules and commutes. In 2020 to 2021, 14% of Michigan children age five and younger lived in families in which someone quit, changed or refused a job because of problems with child care.
Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said it not only hurts families, but the entire economy.
“The country has never had a child care system that is affordable and accessible to families and also pays a family-sustaining wage to workers,” Boissiere contended. “It’s imperative that we invest in a child care system that can work not only for kids and families, but also for our businesses and the economy.”
Boissiere added in the areas of economic opportunity, Latino and Black families, and other marginalized communities, are seeing much higher cost burdens for things like housing and child care.