Michigan’s low investment in child care costs state and poor children alike

It’s mid-morning at Berkley Building Blocks, just north of Detroit, a good time for children of all ages, but especially the little ones in this public school district’s day-care program. Carrying a four-star rating (out of a possible five) it is where about 330 children, from early infancy through preschool, spend all or part of their days, with more on a waiting list.

An impromptu jam session has broken out among a trio of children in the room for 3-year-olds. A girl plays a toy piano with the enthusiasm of a pint-size Jerry Lee Lewis while a boy drums to his own rhythm. The room is big enough that this concert doesn’t disrupt the room, or even attract much attention; similar self-directed play is happening all over.

The children are fortunate to have such a rich environment, which costs about $800 a month. But for the state’s poorest families, facilities like this one are often out of reach.

That’s because Michigan provides day-care centers like Berkley Building Blocks among the lowest reimbursement rates in the nation ($3.25 an hour for 3-year-olds), and only for the poorest low-income families. Of hundreds of children at the Berkley center, just nine families receive the federally funded, state-distributed subsidy for child care (the families have to make up the cost difference).

At a time when Michigan is looking to move more low- and moderate-income people into the workforce, while closing the achievement gap for their children, Michigan’s low investment in child-care can be a daunting obstacle for struggling families.

“You have to be really poor to get in, and then we don’t pay much to people who care for these kids,” said Bob Schneider, director of state affairs for the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a nonpartisan public policy research group.

Moving from welfare to work

The federal program that subsidizes child care for low-income workers in Michigan was shaped during the welfare-reform era of the mid-1990s, when policymakers from the Clinton administration on down were looking for ways to push more people who relied on public assistance into the job market.

The thinking was, if policymakers were going to encourage welfare recipients to enter the workforce, some provision had to be made for the children they’d be leaving at home. And so what became an evolving program of block grants made to individual states began to take hold, with most of the money coming from the federal government and most of its administration and distribution left to the discretion of individual states.

But advocates for greater state investment say that the amount of government reimbursement -- which tops out at $4.75 an hour in Michigan for infant care -- amounts to what a parent would pay to the cheapest babysitter on the block. This at a time when research is revealing the enormous brain development that happens in children between birth and age 3, and its implications for later learning.

“There wasn’t a lot of heavy-duty research about 0-3” year-old children in the 1990s, said Susan Broman, who directs the Michigan Office of Great Start, part of the Department of Education, which oversees Michigan’s publicly funded child care and preschool programs. “So we start with that history of paying close to babysitting wages.”

Quality child care for the youngest of children generally costs around $10,000 a year, Broman noted, which amounts to roughly 40 percent of the gross wages for a worker who qualifies for Michigan’s Child Development and Care program, or CDC, making it unaffordable to many such families.

Michigan’s program ranks near the bottom nationally in helping low-income families afford quality childcare. The state has among the lowest income caps on families that are eligible, and offers among the lowest reimbursement to providers for care. What’s more, thousands of children whose families are eligible for care have left the program in the last decade, and no one can say where they are, or whether they’re being cared for.

The Citizens Research Council, along with Lansing-based Public Sector Consultants, produced a 2014 report on state policy options to improve the outlook for our youngest, poorest children. Of the child-care program, it recommended more investment by the state, among other changes.

But little has changed.

The income limit for eligibility stood for years at 121 percent of the federal poverty level, which amounts to about $24,394 for a family of three in 2016. The cap was recently raised to 125 percent, still one of the lowest levels in the country.

By way of comparison, as of 2011, California admitted families making up to 228 percent of the federal poverty threshold. North Carolina stood at 231 percent, which opens the program to families of three earning up to roughly $46,000, nearly twice the income cap placed on Michigan families.

Child-care advocates are calling for more expansion, with a major report due out later this summer, prepared by PSC for the state’s Office of Great Start.

But there appears to be little enthusiasm in Lansing for expanding eligibility among the legislators with sway over the program’s budget.

With the announcement in May that the state was taking in less tax revenue than previously projected, the subcommittee that oversees the child care program is thinking more frugally these days, approving only the minor expansion from 121 percent of federal poverty to 125 percent.

Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of Education, said the state deserved credit for funding a state expansion of preschool for 4-year-olds in the previous two years. But doing something similar for even younger low-income children will have to wait for bluer skies and fatter tax collections. And raising the eligibility threshold to 125 percent, he added, is progress.

“We’re improving it,” Potvin said. “It’s to the best of our ability at this particular moment. And it’s better than it was. We did something. We didn’t just sit there.”

An economic issue

Helen Blank sounds, at this moment, like a scolding governess who wants the misbehaving child in her charge to know how very, very disappointed she is.

“Oh, (Michigan) is rotten to the core,” she says from her office at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington D.C., where she is director of childcare and early learning. “It makes me weep. One of the saddest stories I know.”

The nonprofit center, which advocates for policies that promote greater opportunity for women and their families, tracks subsidized child care closely, seeing it as a key issue for working parents.

It isn’t just a nice-to-have benefit for the poor, Blank said, but a must-have benefit if low-income parents are to be able to fill new jobs being created in today’s economy, which especially in Michigan are disproportionately low-wage, with non-traditional, often erratic hours.

“Look at the needs of these moms,” said Blank. “I’m glad Michigan has a new investment in pre-K (for four-year-olds). That was good, but don’t exempt child care.”

(In 2013, the state expanded Great Start Readiness Program by $65 million a year, which allowed up to 30,000 lower-income 4-year-olds to attend quality preschool free of charge. Bridge reporting helped make the case for expanding the program to policymakers and the public.)

Blank said 22 percent of mothers of children under 3 in Michigan work in low-wage jobs and would generally qualify for child-care subsidies nationwide. Federal rules establish a broad framework for the program, but gives states considerable latitude in shaping it to their own states – and benefits vary widely.

“You have to understand what the value of this issue is to families and our economy,” Blank said. “(High-quality child care) helps children get a strong start to help them succeed, and it helps mothers work.”

Licensed care, or friends and family?

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees parents 12 weeks off from work, but that time is unpaid. Many have to put their children in the care of others at the earliest age a sitter or care center will accept them – usually six weeks. Consider the human infant at that stage, still very much a newborn – probably not yet smiling, perhaps still a little colicky, as helpless as when he or she left the womb.

“If you talk to parents, they will tell you that one of their most important values is that their child is with someone they trust,” Broman, of the state Great Start program, told Bridge.

That frequently means someone they know, which leads many to leave their children with friends, family or neighbors, who may or may not be licensed. Unlicensed providers can receive reimbursement in the state program. But they must complete a safety training course covering infant CPR, safe sleep, nutrition and related topics, at a one-time cost of $10 to the provider.

Licensed providers receive a higher reimbursement. The state also ranks them by quality, with the highest-quality centers receiving the highest subsidies.

See how licensed child-care centers near you are ranked.

How many Michigan children are cared for by unlicensed, unsubsidized providers is unknown. But Pat Sorenson, who analyzes the issue for the Michigan League for Public Policy, which advocates for lower-income Michiganders, points to some disquieting numbers.

Since 2005, “the number of low‐income Michigan parents receiving publicly subsidized care has dropped by two‐thirds, from nearly 65,000 to only 22,000,” Sorenson wrote in a 2014 policy memo. “Total child care spending (in the subsidy program) fell from $479 million in 2005 to just $136 million in 2014 – a reduction of over 70 percent.”

In other words, tens of thousands of Michigan children disappeared from the program. Where did they go?

Some left the state with their parents, in search of greener economic pastures, maybe. Others may stay home with their unemployed parents. But most are probably still in someone’s care, somewhere, Sorenson said, slipping into the sort of scrambling, catch-as-catch-can arrangements low-income workers often have to make, shifting children among friends, relatives and neighbors.

“It’s not stable,” Sorenson said. “What is the state of (this unlicensed) care? We know very little about it. It’s an underground market in a sense. Little is known about its quality, consistency, safety, etc.”

Who’s watching the baby?

Young children have been cared for by relatives or other adults throughout human history and have turned out fine, of course. But instability can leave children without the sort of consistent relationships and environments they need to thrive later in life, experts say.

“It’s really hard to say that one type of care is necessarily better than another,” said Patricia Cole, director of government relations for Zero to Three, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to translating what we know about early childhood research into policy and resources.

“Children need a nurturing relationship with an adult, and the adult needs to know how to support that development. It’s not that one type is better, but parents need options, and when you take away resources, they lack options.”

If the only available option is a home-based, friends-and-family arrangement, the best strategy is to make it as excellent as possible, said Jeff Guilfoyle, formerly with the Citizens Research Council and now with Public Sector Consultants. (Disclosure: The Center for Michigan, which publishes Bridge, is a client of PSC.)

“I have come full circle on this issue,” Guilfoyle said. “When I first started looking at it, I thought if we’re going to use public dollars for child care, we should only support the highest-ranking centers. But having worked on this, I’ve completely changed my opinion. The reality on the ground is, these kids are not in (child-care) centers, they’re not going to be in centers any time soon, and if you want to do well by these kids, we need to invest in improving (friends/family/neighbor) care.”

Guilfoyle said even if the state raises reimbursement to caregivers, Michigan lacks the capacity – i.e., the classroom space – to put all eligible children in high-quality child-care centers. But improving existing arrangements can be a delicate issue, for many reasons, starting with cost but also requiring providers – some of whom may be grandparents of the children in their care – to acknowledge they may yet have something to learn about caring for children.

The money paid through the program is not only for reimbursement, but training. The idea is similar, Guilfoyle said, to visiting-nurse programs that train new parents how best to care for and interact with growing infants in ways that benefit both. A 2015 Bridge series showed that such programs, while costly, pay for themselves because they lead to mothers to spend less time on government assistance while also producing better academic and social outcomes for their children.

“Dozens of studies have been done with random selection, that follow these kids for decades, and can see results into adulthood,” said Guilfoyle. “It makes a big difference early on.”

Inside a care center

So what does quality child care look like?

At Berkley Building Blocks, babies can go into care at six weeks. In the infant room, teacher Heather Blauer was holding an eight-month-old on her lap one day, while another child practiced crawling on a mat at her feet. Cribs lined a wall, each decorated with a color photo of its current claimant. A chart on the wall behind her told the age of each baby.

Blauer stroked the downy hair of the baby with as much tenderness as a mother. Infant care at this stage is about “just being available,” as well as engaging in the “give and take of conversation” with children starting to babble, Blauer said.

Down the hall, young toddlers are in a room of their own, all under 2, playing ring around the rosie. Older children a few doors away are in seats at a half-circle table, conducting an experiment of sorts – they’re speculating on which of their candy bars will float or sink, then testing their theories. More are outside playing on a water table with Miss Raana, a treat on a warm day after a chilly spring. Next to this space are two gardens, one planted with vegetables the students will tend and, with luck, sample later in the season.

On cold or rainy days, children can play in an open indoor space, with a climbing apparatus, push toys and other diversions. In nearly every corner, there’s a place for curious, growing, energetic children to find some activity that will engage or energize their growing minds.

The staff ratio for infants is 1:4, sometimes 1:3; for older children, 1:8; and for preschoolers, 1:12. For nine-hour days, five days a week, year-round, parents will pay anywhere from $711 (for preschoolers) to $968 (for infants).

Berkley has a Head Start and Great Start preschool program, which accepts low- to moderate-income children, but those nine families using state vouchers for the child-care program are expected to make up the difference between what the state provides and the full tuition cost, said district spokeswoman Jessica Stilger. (The center is currently going for a five-star rating, but said that during the course of its reassessment period is automatically listed on state databases as having three stars.)

A critical budget shortfall

Kristy Pagan, D-Canton, ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee on education appropriations, said more investment in child care “will help lift families out of poverty, and give our youngest children a chance to have a running start.”

She offered an amendment to increase the eligibility threshold to 150 percent of the poverty line (around $30,000 for a family of three), which failed along party lines, she said. In addition to raising the cap to 125 percent instead, the legislation gave the children of Flint a special carve-out as part of their focused recovery from the lead water crisis; parents in Flint can make up to 300 percent of federal poverty and qualify for state-supported child care.

Pagan points out that Michigan could receive another $20 million in federal money for this program, if the legislature was willing to put up $7 million in general fund dollars as the state’s match.

But that’s money the state can ill afford, Potvin, the Republican subcommittee chairman said.

“The true wakeup call came with revenue estimating,” he said, referring to the shortfall in state income revealed this spring. “It forced us to not be as generous as we had hoped to be.”

Now on sale, Bridge Magazine’s book on of the Flint water crisis: “Poison on Tap: How Government Failed Flint, and the Heroes Who Fought Back”

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Carl Ver Beek
Thu, 06/30/2016 - 9:51am
Michigan has made some improvements so it is feeling good even though we rank low. One idea would be to stop the "automatic" increase in Medicaid funding from the General Fund and divert the savings to this area. This could be done with a Medicaid waiver prioritizing the Medicaid benefits to those with the highest clinical and cost effectiveness and dropping the less effective benefits. We do this prioritizing with every thing else in the budget--why not Medicaid?
Thu, 06/30/2016 - 10:46am
People receiving medicare vote in higher numbers than many other age and demographics of the population. There is your answer.
Tue, 07/05/2016 - 11:28am
Carl was writing about Medicaid, not Medicare.
Thu, 06/30/2016 - 10:11am
Let's just give Free Everything to Everyone. It doesn't work nor is it fair. More Food Stamps, More Subsidized Housing, More Free & Reduced School Breakfast, Lunch and Summer meals have the unintended consequence of more children being born into poverty with that poverty becoming generational poverty that results in comfortable poverty. You are seeing that in cities like Detroit. There is no turning back and money is far from being the only answer. Until culture issues are addressed, it is wasted money.
Thu, 06/30/2016 - 12:05pm
Mark, you're totally right about "culture issues" being key. And I should say that I'm not an expert in this, but I dabble. Addressing the "culture issues" is exactly what funding to early childcare does and why it's one of the best places to put our money. The return on investment is huge. As you've pointed out, poverty is cyclical. Being around people in poverty begets more poverty. When you grow up seeing poverty as the norm, with limited resources, and no connection to solid education (early childhood or otherwise), you have no chance of escaping it. You're less likely to do well in elementary school, and then you're less likely to do well in high school, which means you might not graduate and go to college, get a good job, stay out of jail, stay off welfare... Kids that have a solid educational foundation are not the ones getting pregnant at 16 and ending up in the "comfortable poverty" life that you speak of. Maybe the parents right now we're not going to change substantially, though I have not seen evidence before that things like free and reduced cost lunch increase pregnancy rates. I'd be interested in reading something you can show us about that. But even if we can't solve the poverty issues with these parents, we can make it so that their kids are less likely to end up in the exact same place they are. High quality early childhood programs that get them on a track to academic success leads to significantly higher chances of success, and as a result, a lower tax bill for you and I in the future. I talk about evidence a lot to not include any of my own so here's a study on this commissioned by the Fisher Foundation that talked about the long-term return on investment in this field. There's lots more where this came from. http://www.mmfisher.org/wilder_foundation.html
Fri, 07/01/2016 - 11:29pm
If you know the quality childcare isn't available to every child and the younger years are deemed more important, why not look to the way Tennessee does it with their Governor's Books from Birth Foundation. We could start with the free book a month from birth to 5 years old and see about getting federal grants (they go through the Dolly Parton's Imagination Library) and expand to the visit stuff when grants or the economy improves. Free book programs for the legally blind child/parent resources can cheaply be promoted. The Jewish free book programs in urban areas probably can't be promoted because of separation of state fears and other legal issues (i.e. if an atheist doesn't want their kid exposed to old testament stories and/or morals the books present), but individually people can reach other to help someone who needs help. Then we should work on helping build the English literacy rate and provide help or services to the parents who need to braille or other services for the vision impaired. If we can't afford to do even that, then we should do a low cost campaign to promote agencies that provide grants, scholarships, or free resources to help people. In my day during the Summer that would have included Vacation Bible School, playing with kids in the neighborhood, staying with relatives, and occasional community park activities.
Sun, 07/03/2016 - 1:01am
Joseph, You claim you know about culture and yet you seem to believe it is it driven by money. Culture is driven by social expectations and reinforcement. Wealth can be a by-product of culture but wealth is not a culture in and of itself. The individual responds to culture because it is immediate and it is personal and it is providing regular feedback. If you want to change the academic culture, start by looking at what cultures work [Wealth, Poverty, Politics by Thomas Sowell, as an example the Cuban refugees of the 1950s page-64]. If you look at the academic success in a classroom in a poor neighborhood you will see successes, failures, and those in between. It isn’t about the poverty, it is about the individual’s expectations and the younger they are the less they expect of the future and more they expect of the immediate. You seem to believe this money moves three years olds out of poverty? That would require that the intervening 20 years mean nothing, and it is those first few years that decides that move. That is simply not plausible. The child has a choice ever day of every year, and simply changing their setting will not assure them of becoming 'wealthy'. Did you ever hear the phrase, 'you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink'? The same is true of people; simply putting them in the setting doesn't mean they will use it. The reality is that a student needs to have an interest/a desire to learn. Simply seeing people whose parents are ‘wealthy’ is not an obvious link between wealth and education for as best I can tell a child up to about ten is only focused on their immediate interests and are not thinking about the future and money and a degree. Either they like hearing a story or they would rather be playing, they choose. It is the child’s choice to learn and until we look at learning through the child's eyes we will not frame education so they will want to learn. As for the so called 'studies' you linked to, it seems all are about estimates, I see nothing about tracking children from a Detroit pre-school program to graduation and college and career. In my career estimates were considered 'best guess', 'educated guess', 'hope and a prayer', but never a study. 'Studies' all had measured events, activities, or results, quantifiable, reproducible data.
Sun, 07/03/2016 - 10:30am
Yes, let's stop spending period and let the roads, water systems, schools, etc. 'fend for themselves'. Brilliant strategy for making Michigan another Mississippi.
Sun, 07/03/2016 - 6:11pm
Rather than start by wanting to spend more let's start by deciding what results we want and how we will measure the effectiveness of the programs we are being asked to support.
Thu, 08/30/2018 - 4:38pm

Duane, yet one more disingenuous comment from a person who appears to be blind to the evidence. You have commented on several other articles about childcare, flaunting your ignorance with comments like "comfortable poverty" which is a heinous and cruel joke to the families in Detroit who have their water & power shut off. There are kids who wear jackets in school in winter, and deal with black mold - all for the terrible crime of choosing to be born to the wrong parents.

This article, and the other articles you have so deftly commented on describe what results we want; to develop toddlers at the critical stage of 0-3 years old when brain development occurs. After that, if they have high quality Pre-k, and then good K-12 schools (something Michigan needs a culture shift *and* more money to deal with), then kids with bad home lives will at least have a *chance* instead of being left for dead like we do today.

Statistics isn't about individuals, it's about groups. The goal of policy is to raise the average expectations of a given group.The status quo leads our poorest children destined to lives of poverty and crime. This has a huge cost, to al of us, and continues the cycle of poverty. Other states have invested money (and changed their education culture), and are reaping the benefits. Michigan kids are still failing in test scores. We could have another "lost generation" of kids with lifetime lower earnings.

Our tax money is going to prisons for the kids who slip through the cracks. $50,000 per year for each prisoner, compared to $10,000 per year for the best childcare in the world, and giving parents more opportunities to get jobs and careers.

The goal is to raise a new generation of kids who can fend for themselves, and to get parents the tools they need to get back into the workforce. Disinvestment has been tried, for decades, and obviously utterly failed.

Thu, 06/30/2016 - 11:43am
Mark: Whatever you do for the least of Mine you do to Me. Did any of these innocents ask to be born into poverty or lead poisoned? I am pleased to know you had a chance to pick you parents so smartly. And before replies flow in blaming the parents who want to simply have a family as God and Nature intended, I have yet to see any law that suggests you have to meet income eligibility to have a family. We under fund schools, roads, transit, health care and everything else and then folk go off on the poor for not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps without transit, without decent schools, no child care, with impossible costs for higher education, no job training, damn poor and very expensive health care and then harp at our fellow Americans for not "working" harder when we don't even give them bootstraps we tell them to grab. Types like you are born on third base (good schools, Dad had a good job his Dad or uncle got him, probably, never missed a meal, never had lights go off or heat go off, parents bought you a car and you grew up in world where middle class wages had not yet stagnated for 30 years). I'd guess Jonathan Swift's essay on the Irish problem is your answer, right? Have you ANY idea how hard it is to find child care, find transportation, food or even a grocery store in urban areas? Just so a working poor person can get to a 7.25 hour job you think is going to pull a man or woman out of poverty, net of child care and bus fare? I suspect most of you gripers would simply give up facing these challenges if you had to put down your lattes and walk a mile in the shoes of the less fortunate. And your complete disregard for the children, who cannot work (being kids I point out) , cannot buy food, cannot vote and have no ability to improve their chances because..hey...they are CHILDREN get nothing from you but condemnation. Great. Helpful. You know Mark, if you don't like America and have not the heart to be a generous American in mind and spirit and have not the decent heart to lend a hand to our fellow Citizens, why not move somewhere else and leave we, the less judgmental and less heartless, to try and make this Country what it was meant to be, not a dog eat dog fight form survival where education is simply job training for Corporate Moloch, but a city on the hill where we all work to better life, for liberty and a pursuit of civic happiness and accord. I'm sick of cheapskates carping in a country that has more money than God but won't spend any of it as She intended. I say the 1% is not the Boss of We the People. I'd rather She judged me as a person who helped then one who didn't. And to those who say: "Great if you like that so much, you do it" I reply that She didn't make it my job alone. It is your job too.She made it yours. We are a Society and Country together, all of us. It is not my job alone to make this better, but at least I'm willing to try and you slugs are just too lazy to lend a hand. Thus pull on the oars and get with it or leave. Your choice. I have made mine.
Thu, 06/30/2016 - 4:07pm
very well said Greg.
Thu, 06/30/2016 - 9:15pm
Wise words.
Thu, 06/30/2016 - 10:03pm
Your argument has no basis especially with the premise that we underfund all those items you mentioned. The key point to my argument is that education is not a priority among cyclical - generational poverty children. No Job Training? Are you kidding me? There are hundreds of Federal and State job training programs. There are ~75,000 job vacancies on the Michigan Job Works website. Any low income person can go virtually free to Community College in Michigan. In Detroit, we have half of resident illiterate and ~75% poverty or low income....these stats have not gotten better in decades because of culture....people are comfortable. Are there people hurting, absolutely. There will always be winners and losers in society. The Question and Problem for America is how do we change the culture. Because as Joseph in a previous post implied, it is virtually impossible for somebody to break the cyclical poverty cycle. There is not an educational model anywhere in our country that can successfully educate a student population that comes from cyclical poverty. It just doesn't happen.
Sun, 07/03/2016 - 8:44pm
Greg, Do you realize there are many who have walked in those 'shoes' and succeeded? Have you ever asked why they succeeded, how they succeeded, and if others could learn from their success? Or can you only see spending other people's money to do for others and discouraging them from doing for themselves? Have you ever considered that success comes from within? That it is about desire, it is about sacrifice, it is about effort, it is about personal expectations? Have ever wondered how people develop the desire to work toward their future? It is about the individual not what others will do for them? Consider learning, a teacher can provide all the information available, however, unless the student listens, is willing to do the homework, is willing to put their education ahead of what is easier to do today they will not learn, they will not have the future you envision for them.
Kevin Grand
Thu, 06/30/2016 - 12:27pm
Between local municipalities being shortchanged, roads being shortchanged, schools being shortchanged (although given the Detroit circus, the jury is still out on that one) and I'm sure that there are many more causes and organizations that would like to have more money in their budget to spend, this begs the obvious question not broached in the piece above, Ms. Derringer: Who is expected to pay for all of this? Despite a state budget that has continually grown under this republican governor, Michigan is sitting on at least a $75-billion and growing debt. The federal government, depending if you're using what is "officially" on the books (nearly $20-trillion) or everything on and off them (about $220-trillion total) is obviously in no better shape. Every example that I had cited above was written about previously in The Bridge. And if memory serves, not one of them provided an answer either.
Thu, 06/30/2016 - 2:27pm
Kevin: If you want good roads, schools and everything else you pay for it with.... Taxes. Federal tax rates are the lowest on 30 years, about the time we last had good roads, good schools, good local services. And we've decided to let them fall to ruin because yammer heads yell about paying taxes. Sure receipts are higher. There's more people to contribute but all at a lower per capita then ever! And has anything gotten cheaper since 1976? State taxes rates overall are lower too. So we get crap roads and services. Why are kids poisoned in Flint? Because cheapskates wanted to save money. Why did Flnt go bust? Detroit? How much revenue sharing was it promised in return income tax concessions for suburbanite working in the city and giving up police and fire residency rules that it didn't get? Because revenue sharing is laid waste because taxes are low. If we don't want to pay for stuff we don't get stuff. No good schools, no good roads, higher tuition at our public universities because the state has cut back support to practically nothing on a percentage basis and nothing for new things like computers in schools which were non existent in 1976 for most purpose. Low taxes, crappy state. Ask South Carolina and Mississippi We are 39th in income tax rate. Right about where roads, schools and local government rank. We want nice stuff? Pay for it. We are cheapskates and thus we get Walmart and garage sale stuff that breaks, wears out and fails.
Kevin Grand
Fri, 07/01/2016 - 12:14am
Ms. Derringer, This is amazing! Not only did your online handle change, but so did your writing style! I'll tell you what, Greg; after Ms. Derringer answers what I have posted above, I will be more than happy to address your point. But not until then...
Sun, 07/03/2016 - 9:06pm
I apologize for stepping into this conversation, but as one of the 'cheapskates' by your criteria let me offer a different perspective on money. The conversation should be about results, for as has been proven no matter how much money is spent there is never enough. If programs were held accountable for the results they deliver then spending would be more effective. Your approach has all the appearances of spending other people's money for no other reason then they have money. As best I can tell that when there were no programs such as those mentioned the successes of the children were no more or less than today. Those who wanted the programs never developed performance metrics to assess the effectiveness of the programs. Even in this article I see no mention of program performance metrics, it is only about spending other peoples money. I learned a long time ago if you don't have accountability, measures of results, you will never have success. And without success you lose trust and a willingness to get more money. You need to understand I earned my money by providing value to others so I expect value/effectiveness for my money. I am one of your 'cheapskates' because I see no results data, no program accountability, measures of value for all the money that has been spent so I resist spending more when there appears to be no reason to see a change in the results
Kevin Grand
Thu, 07/07/2016 - 11:30am
Still waiting for Ms. Derringer's response...
Thu, 06/30/2016 - 2:42pm
About 50 years ago, you didn't have kids until you could afford them. And the "you" was a two parent family. When you reached the limit of your budget on kids, you had a vasectomy or a tubal litigation or both. For child care, you factored in that one parent may not work until the child entered kindergarten. There was no outside help. Maybe a grandparent would help with the childcare, or maybe five families got together and one family was responsible for daycare for the five one day each week. Fast forward two generations, and people are having kids faster than rabbits are born. About 70% of the kids are in single parent homes, the parent expects the state to raise the kid, and zero thought is given to thinking about the responsibility of being a parent. We can all see where this is going. Downhill, fast. And to Greg above, no I don't work to support someone who feels they should have everything and contribute nothing.
Robyn Tonkin
Tue, 07/05/2016 - 1:36pm
I find it interesting that no one seems to have adequately responded to your email. One man sort of did, and his assessment is that women "should not be chained to a man." True, but children need two adults who are responsible for them, if not an entire extended family. Two women, a man and a woman, two men, but a pair of parents are needed. I lived the life of 50 years ago with my husband of 41 years. I stayed home, made food, shovelled snow, managed the finances, sewed clothes and oh, was the parent who was present in the home while my husband was both a career civil servant and an army reserve officer. we liked this way of doing things, were committed to it, and found it made our lives, all three of them, successful. Rutgers University has a long running research project named the Marriage Project. All of their research and data indicate that life long committed marriages yield the most successful outcomes for parents and children alike. They have produced a wealth of teaching materials for high schools. I wonder how many schools use it. When I read sad tales of people who fell from the middle class into chronic poverty, very often, the opening line of their tale is, "I got a divorce."
Fri, 07/01/2016 - 9:26am
39th in income tax rate. Low 40's in roads, Ed spend etc. and your answer is cultural war? Like it or not we live in today's world, not 50 years ago! Btw Teen prenancy down is down. And I'm not unhappy that women don't feel the need to be chained to a man to have a family. But key point I ask: does the the last comment apply to your own children? I haven't not seen many toddlers who don't feel they need everything and who have job! So you dodged my premise. Why will you not see the need to help children. Is there no responsbilty to deal with the least among us? And I'm glad you are so deeply in the heads of single parents. "Zero thoughts?" You likely wore out several pairs of shoes walking in their steps I'm sure. You know all their expectations, plans and needs? I won't pretend to that. And you have determined that you decide when people should have the love and warmth of a family? When your standards are met. Gracious indeed. And you see no way for women to work? All must stay home to raise the kids? No way to give paid time off for sick kid or aged parent, No way to have adequate child care? Life can surprise. These women you castigate could end being relatives of yours. 70%? Odds seem to favor that. Could happen, right? Your generous views will be a great comfort to them? Seem like it all comes back to your wallet then? And you have not answered my question about bad roads. Bad schools. No public transit. How exactly does that link to unwed motherhood. I missed that part. I don't know your age but would I be far off to hazard you grew up in an era like I did with good roads, good schools, great support for higher Ed, all of which got me where I am today. And my kids? Crappy roads, crappy schools no support for higher. Ed. And that 75k of job. More that half need higher Ed I bet but we've underfund all Ed so there is no way to get them. And the other half. Mimimun wage jobs which are hard to get to without a care and still no child care, health insurance and other necessities. What rational being takes that job? Ps: hi Dellinger!
Fri, 07/01/2016 - 12:32pm
Greg, How is it that you can point to biblical mandates to us as individuals to give aid to the poor, as reason to have government force money from citizens, but then deny responsibility to the same moral mandates on us as individuals which their breaking, put people into the circumstances where this forced government aid is necessary in the first place? Can you make the extractee responsible to this moral code without holding the recipient? Without consequences don't we have constant one way flow, the generational poverty/public aid cycle? How do you work this? Maybe you ought to quit using this rationale? As far as bad roads Michigan drivers pay more in taxes per gallon of fuel purchased than any state in our area, yet you complain? Further I've witnessed numerous immigrants coming here with very few recourses other than willingness to work hard and succeeding way beyond our "native poor" have in spite of your list of crappy nonsufficient government goodies. Why?
Fri, 07/01/2016 - 4:56pm
I do not recall the New Testament's mandates as requiring a quid pro quo or being conditioned on anything. But catechism class was a while ago and I skipped sometimes. And I have been teasing you a bit since I am, at best I'm agnostic. But I do hold the notions of "do on to others" and "doing for the least among us" quite dear. And you again sidestep my point. Like roads. Why do you and I have to drive on crappy roads? It is because you and others don't want to pay for them. I'll make this offer: Raise my taxes and those of many others who think like me,...and you stay off the improved and fixed roads you don't want to pay your fair share for. Or maybe you can dive 5 days a week and I get 7 days, but I'll pick which days you get to use the roads like you want decide which folk are worthy enough in your mind get what minimum they need. It is perfect solution for your mindset as far as I can tell. And so what about gas tax and how high or low it is? Any driver can see we simply don't spend enough money on roads. If the money was sufficient, the roads would be better. We are like, what? 45th in road spending? Is Santa going make our roads number one and costs number 50? Magical thinking is what I call that. Is wiping out all the mythical "waste fraud and mismanagement" I'm sure to hear about going to vault us to great roads when we still only are in the bottom 10% on road spending in the whole country? It just sounds like to me that you don't want to pay for decent roads. Well I do. So raise the gas tax and let us get that done. The whole point is that you don't want to pay. Roads are bad and we don't spend enough on them. It's one among many things we are to cheap too pay for. It simply won't work if we want billion dollar roads but will only pay millions for them. I don't see why that is to hard to grasp. How do you propose roads get fixed? The facts are we have crappy roads because we don't pay enough. I cannot change the facts. We just don't pay enough. And you also have not answered my other question. Go ahead, blame the parents, we'll never agree on that you and I? But why do you clearly insist innocent children must suffer even IF one concedes the parents are, what? Immoral? Lazy? I don't really get your point other than you don't like them and have a magical ability to judge the lives of tens of thousands of fellow American Citizens whom you have never met but presume to know everything about. I suggest you actually visit our least fortunate and then report back to us honestly all about how wonderful and easy and full or hope and promise their lives are and all the other facts you project as "true" but for which you have no first hand experience. But if you have done that careful in the field research, then I apologize. I guess I am just making assumptions about you and I have never met you have I? But what are the children to do? You would deny them decent lives and futures because you judge their parents unworthy? Close the loop for me. Or is your answer that the children are condemned to lives of misery because you don't like their parents? I just cannot grasp that view. No heart. It is not America as I understood ourselves to to claim to be. I am mystified. Furthermore, as to "why"? I don't know and lack the same self assurance you do in your apparent wisdom to claim I do. But I suggest, making perhaps unwarranted assumptions about you, that if you were born in a society that discriminated quite clearly against you and your parents and grand parents for centuries in your own country where you were born, if you were red-lined into specific neighborhoods, if your relatives were experimented on and infected with venereal diseases on purpose, if you were denied the right to fight for your own country because of your looks, if you had relatives who were lynched, if no one would sell you house where the good schools were, or if you live in a world like Detroit in the 50's when the cant was "protecting the neighborhoods" from you, if the unions limited your job opportunities to floor sweeping on the factory floors, if the skilled trade unions kept you out but made sure their kids got in, if you were a victim of blockbusting, if insurance companies discriminated against you, if cops simply murdered you like they did at the Algiers Motel and no one paid for that crime, if you neighborhood were occupied by tanks and certain a cretinous mayor like Orville Hubbard rolled out other tanks to intimidate you and made sure you could never move into his city, if people called the first President of the USA of your race a monkey and a traitor, or if you were the victim of the lawless STRESS units visiting violence in your neighborhoods, or if your kids got stopped by cops all the time with a strong likelihood they would be beaten or shot, if people moved across the street as you walked down it because of the color of your skin , if your voting rights were infringed or denied for decades, if you needed a special Constitutional Amendment and War to grant your grandparents or great grandparents freedom, if you need a special law like the Civil Rights Act just so that people would serve you food and let you sleep under the roof of the local inn,if your great grandparents had been slaves, if your historic neighborhoods had been demolished for expressways or for "Urban Renewal", if you neighborhood was occupied for decades by police not of you appearance who shoot you or arrest on whim, if you had no grocery store within 10 miles, if your school had roof leaks and rats, if you had no car and your parents could not afford one, if you went to bed hungry every night through no fault of you own, if your street didn't get snow removed so you could get to work or school, if no one picked up your trash, if you parks were overgrown with weeds, if you neighborhood was polluted with factory waste that rained down on you daily and you could not move because no one would sell or rent you a house in a better area with better schools. if your drinking water were poisoned, then MAYBE YOU too would be a might bit worn down by it all, and tired and hopeless, and even more tired from every single day tugging and tugging on your worn out boot straps while people called you and yours that you love, lazy no account folk without ambition or morals? I know I would. I be broken completely. But maybe not you. I won't judge you because I don't don't know you do I? And you don't know them, do you? And if you deem me weak because I know I could not thrive in the face of all of that, so be. I could not because it is too much to ask of any of our fellow Americas. So I don't.
Sat, 07/02/2016 - 11:18pm
Well I assure you that you attended more catechism than did I but Google is the great leveler so, "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat" 2 Thes 3, among others sounds like a pretty solid quid pro quo, to me. But since you've for all intents tossed all that crazy bible stuff out, I'm always interested to hear your case made from a materialistic/ natural selection/ evolutionary basis too. This rationale, I find, seems to become even more illogical. Again as I alluded before, Michiganders pay both a gas tax as well as a sales tax on fuel purchase giving us among the highest fuel tax burdens in our region yet strangely or not, this doesn't seem to help our roads, according to you. I for the most part am fairly satisfied with the roads I drive. Children I'll grant you are a special situation, but that does not prevent us from stopping the incentivizing of bringing more into the world that "parents " can neither feed, care for or raise. As far as your very long troupe of oppression, cruelty and discrimination causing our poor (of any color) to be excused and unable to access the opportunities available, while simultaneous and subsequent immigrants such as Jews, Arabs, Indians (Asian), Chinese, Koreans, Japaneses, Mormons, Mexicans, Caribbeans of African decent - just for starters, who also faced extreme generational hardship and cruelty and yet largely prospered here in relative short order while our poor languish generation after generation. This leaves logic and my experience strained.
mary walker
Mon, 07/04/2016 - 5:27pm
There is no such thing as "comfortable poverty". Try it yourself for a month (no cheating) and see how comfortable you are.
Tue, 07/05/2016 - 10:15am
I'm not certain what you are referring to as uncomfortable verses comfortable poverty. Maybe heat but no AC? Not enough channels on TV or too small a TV? Having to use a non-smart mobile phone? Too old of a car? The whole current concept of poverty needs clarification.
Wed, 07/06/2016 - 8:59pm
WOW. I finally understand why Michigan feels like a foreign country to me these days. I have reflected on many of the comments you've made and also understand why this is the first time in my life I want to leave Michigan. Have you ever had a conversation with the folks you denigrate and judge? Do you really know their stories? I have. One of my mom's favorite sayings was "but for the grace of God goes you or I? Over the last 50 years, racism(structural, environmental, geographic to name a few) has been rampant in Michigan. I grew up in Detroit one of 12 children, and my mom still had love in her heart to take in foster babies. My mom and dad both worked very hard and taught their children the same. Education was very valued when growing up, but one difference for me was I was white. I did not have all the benefits of "white men", but none the less, I was white, and had more opportunity than any of the minority neighbors. I am really sorry for those of you with all the answers.
Fri, 07/08/2016 - 12:15am
Bernadette, Having left Michigan I saw how people lived elsewhere and I came back to Michigan. As for your Mother’s favorite saying, I take exception with the ‘but’. It is for the grace of God that we each have a path to travel and that we have choices of how we will travel that path no matter the barriers. With regard to all that you feel has been rampant for 50 years in Michigan, the reality is that it has been rampant around the world since man walked the earth. You did omit the one prejudice you seem to have and one I have heard for over 50 years, ‘the benefits of ‘white men’. Take a moment and if you can tell me what special benefits and what have I achieved because of who I am [‘white male’] and not because of the choices I made and the action I took. Bigotry no matter who is the target is still bigotry. I knew a man [of ‘color’] that had been successful on his own merits, but like you he could not let go of history, the failings of the past 50 years. That inability to change with the opportunities he created for himself put a cap on his success, something he later acknowledged. We are not the past 50 years we are here and now and we have opportunity and success all around us because the world in Michigan has changed. People do have answers. If all you can see is the exception and are unwilling to see the successes you are stopping those answers being shared with people that could use them to change their results, their lives. The reality is that so many people have walked the paths you seem so concerned with and they have succeeded. Rather than belittle those who offer answers make the effort to ask them why have they succeeded academically, socially, financially, and listen, ask them how they succeeded and listen, ask them what are the barriers to success they had to overcome to succeed and listen. Each success has the seeds of success for others to use. If someone spends all their thoughts, energy, and time chained to the past they will never recognize success and will never see the opportunity to change their future. The choice is do we focus on results and listen to those who have succeeded or do perpetuated what has gotten us to the state of things we all want to change?
Thu, 07/07/2016 - 9:20am
Sorry Bernadette, but it doesn't take much effort to watch people standing in line at the food pantry smoking cigarettes and playing on their smart phones. Obviously there are a truly hard cases which need help. But this is the difference between people on your side and mine, we see people as being able to overcome any hardship that they really feel they need to and yes are forced to and yes many happily will settle into dependency being take free stuff as much and if allowed to . Your side sees nothing but unending excuses for and an unavoidable future of perpetual helplessness, to which you are all too happy to take money from someone else (taxpayers) and have given to maintain people in this life of poverty and dependency. It is us that feel sorry for the the people you have trapped in your world.