MARQUETTE — The challenges families and kids face was the focus of today’s ‘Kids Count in the U.P.’ panel discussion at the Marquette Alger Regional Educational Service Agency in Marquette.
According to data provided at the meeting, 23% of U.P. kids live in poverty. That’s down from 25% last year. Several legislators discussed the importance of having everyone on the same page when it comes to taking care and providing options for children.
“This is really a great opportunity to hear from the legislators to hear from the people who actually provide these programs and provide the education to our children. Their insight is to how we need to spend our state resources,” said Rep. John Kivela (D–Marquette). “Being specific to the Upper Peninsula, being a very rural, remote area, these programs are more difficult to provide. We look to our experts here in the other room to share with us what works and what doesn’t.”
“There’s a surprising amount of challenges I think we don’t always think about,” said Rep. Ed McBroom (R–Vulcan). “Broken families or when there’s separations or if a parent dies, that leaves kids in a tough way. I’ve seen kids who’ve had to quit school and go to work to support their families.”
“The best thing we can have is all the legislators here to hear the needs from the needs from the superintendents and everyone reaching out from this group,” said Rep. Scott Dianda (D–Calumet). “Our numbers are top in the U.P. We have great teachers, great administrators and these things are what drive people to move up to our area, which is going to improve our economy because our schools are the best.”
Educators, legislators, medical directors and other experts associated with the well being of kids participated in the annual conference.