These are hard times to be young in Michigan. The state’s youngest learners – those between birth and age 5 – face daunting challenges. Consider:
- Poverty affects one of every four children ages 0-4 in Michigan (31st in the nation).
- Forty-two percent of all the births in Michigan are to single women well below poverty level. One of every 10 births in Michigan was to a teenager (ranks 30th among the states).
- Michigan has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation, (7.1 deaths per 1,000 births) ranking 37th among the states.
- The most glaring disparity in infant mortality rates is between African American infants and white non-Hispanic infants: 14.2 per 1,000 live births compared with 5.5 deaths per 1,000 for white babies.
- In 2011, roughly 30 percent of all Michigan births were to mothers who had received less than adequate prenatal care, as measured by the month care began and the number of prenatal visits.
- More than 10,000 young children in Michigan suffered from neglect in 2006. A thousand more suffered other forms of abuse.
For these children, who all too often are from low income and/or minority families, not being ready for school becomes a life-long sentence of poor academic achievement, diminished expectations and limited opportunity. The cost of unreadiness is significant. Children who start behind, stay behind. Children who are held back in school are more likely to drop out long-term. Children who dropout are at significant risk of becoming victims of, or instigators of, criminal behavior. Chronic physical and mental health issues that are left untreated often result in higher health care and/or special education costs. And on and on.
The research is clear: Getting kids off to a great start is just common sense. It’s both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.
Learn more about the importance of early childhood education by visiting the links below:
* Data above is from 2010 data with 1 being the best ranking. Source: Kids Count Data Center
* Michigan League for Public Policy: http://www.mlpp.org/medicaid-expansion-could-benefit-michigan-babies#sthash.eyvv3JbL.dpuf
* Michigan League for Public Policy Report: Right Start in Michigan and Its Great Start Collaboratives 2013: Trends in Maternal and Infant Well-Being