(WZZM) -- The growing number of Michigan's children in poverty puts it last among the Great Lakes states for child well-being, according to the latest Kids Count report.
The report, compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, tracks the state of children in categories including economics, education, health, and family.
Michigan ranks 31st in the U.S. for overall child well-being, up one slot from last year's report. Among the Great Lakes States, Minnesota ranked the highest (4th), while Indiana was only slightly better than Michigan (30th).
The latest report says 25% of Michigan's children were in poverty in 2011 (about 560,000 children), up from 19% in 2005. Researchers also calculated that 35% of the state's children that year had parents who lacked secure employment (31% in 2008). Michigan also ranks 43rd in the U.S. for children living in high-poverty neighborhoods.
Positives for Michigan include the state's 4th in the nation ranking for providing health insurance for children through private insurance and state programs. Researchers say only 4% of Michigan's children do not have insurance coverage.
Michigan is also 15th in the U.S. for children in families where the head of household lacks a high school diploma.
The group behind the report is suggesting ways to address the issues in its findings, including:
- Restore the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent of the federal credit. The Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder cut the state EITC to 6 percent in 2011.
- Expand eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to provide health care to low-income parents and individuals.
- Make training for low-skilled adults a priority in the state budget.
- Increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation.
- Add reasonable exemptions to time limits for cash assistance and lift the asset test for food assistance.
More of the findings can be found at the Kids Count Data Center.