By Jon King /

A new report ranks Michigan 28th in the country for overall child well-being and 41st in education as of 2019.

The 2021 Kids Count Databook from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that while Livingston County had just 4.6% of children living in poverty, in Michigan as a whole that number was 18%. Kelsey Perdue, Kids Count Initiative project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy, said one bright spot statewide is getting 97% of kids insured - the 5th best record in the country.

"However, pre-pandemic we know that over half of our kids were covered by an employer-sponsored health plan, associated with their caregivers' work plan," said Perdue. "But with massive job loss last year, that outcome is definitely at risk."

The Kids Count Databook shows that 68% of Michigan 4th graders are not proficient in reading - and 69% of 8th graders aren't at grade level in math. While Livingston County’s numbers are better; only about 40% of local 4th graders are not proficient in reading and just 57% are nor proficient in math. Either way, no one is satisfied with those numbers, which Perdue says is a result of the state legislature shortchanging K-12 schools for years.

"Over the last decade Michigan diverted $4.5 billion that was intended for public K-12 schools to universities and community colleges to help balance the state budget," said Perdue. "So we haven't adequately funded our schools and we certainly haven't equitably funded our schools. "

However, there is hope that if a plan passed last week by the state House can get Senate approval it would eliminate a funding gap among school districts, with each receiving $8,700 in base per-student state aid, not including at least $1,093 more per pupil in federal funding from a rescue package signed by President Joe Biden in March. Another point of optimism is a new federal child poverty tax credit that will send most families an extra $250 to $300 dollars a month per child starting in a few weeks, going through the end of the year. The Kids Count report calls on Congress to make those income supports permanent.

Public News Service contributed to this report.