Young people are struggling with homelessness, studies find

LANSING — Schoolchildren and youths in Michigan are struggling with homelessness at high rates, new studies show. Poverty Solutions, a University of Michigan initiative dedicated to prevention and alleviation of poverty, found Michigan among the states with the largest number of homeless youths — more than 36,000 children in elementary, middle and high schools facing homelessness and housing insecurity. This report was confirmed by the 2018 Kids Count report– a study by the Michigan League for Public Policy that analyzes and evaluates the wellbeing of children in the state. It  found that in 2016, 444,100 children lived in poverty. The report ranked 82 of the 83 counties for overall child wellbeing.

Michigan reversing prison population boom of ‘90s

By GLORIA NZEKA
Capital News Service
LANSING — Following the closing of some correctional facilities in recent years, the size of Michigan’s prison population is at its lowest in two decades. Criminal justice experts, however say, there’s still more to be done. John Cooper, the policy director for the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending, a nonprofit public policy organization, said the Department of Corrections’ current recidivism rate of 28 percent isn’t a good measurement of what’s going on in the criminal justice system. “To have 28 percent of people who got out of prison return still is a very high rate,” Cooper said. “We don’t want anybody to be going back to prison.”
Earlier this year, the department reported that the prison population is below 40,000 for the first time since 1992.

Citizen panel helps community recover from decades of contamination

By JACK NISSEN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Jane Keon has written hundreds of letters. Letters to the state and federal environmental officials. To her local St. Louis government and to the officials of Velsicol, the chemical company that left the small Gratiot County city after it created one of the nation’s most notorious Superfund sites. Keon is the former president of the community advisory group – commonly called the CAG – that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established to assist the cleanup of the factory site that sits on the Pine River in the middle of St.

Commitment wanted: State seeking more foster parents

By CRYSTAL CHEN
Capital News Service
LANSING – Rachel Kornilakis, who has been a foster parent for several years and adopted three children out of foster care, says being a foster parent creates a sense of helping others and belonging to a community. “It is lovely and fulfilling to see children heal, grow, develop and experience firsts,” she said. “Take a kid to the zoo or for ice cream for the first time and your heart will be forever changed. It’s magical.”
Her foster children have stayed with the family for as short as three months and “as long as forever.”
Kornilakis, who lives in Southeast Michigan, says she doesn’t differentiate between her foster children and her own. “Out of the thousands of families I know, I don’t know any who think otherwise.”
According to a national study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly half of foster parents quit in their first year.

Nationally, teen suicide rate rises as Michigan counties fight trend

Capital News Service
By GLORIA NZEKA
LANSING — Suicide rates among teenagers nationally are at a 40-year high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The federal study shows that the rate of girls 15 to 19 years old dying by suicide between 2007 and 2015 more than doubled, from 2.4 to 5.1 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the rate among boys in the same age range rose from 10.8 to 14.2 per 100,000. Among states with the highest rates of suicide among residents between 15 and 24 in 2016 are Alaska at 45.6, Montana at 29.2 and South Dakota at 27.9, the American Association of Suicidology reported. Michigan’s rate was 14.7 per 100,000.

East Lansing offering unique assistance to homeless families

While Greater Lansing provides a variety of resources for individuals dealing with homelessness, East Lansing’s Haven House targets families in need. In 2015, members of families comprised over half of the homeless population in Michigan, according to data from the Homeless Management Information System. In Ingham County, the numbers are similar. Roughly 46 percent of people dealing with homelessness are families and children, according to the Greater Lansing Area 2015 Annual Homeless Report. “Homelessness is an issue throughout the greater Lansing region,” said Amy Schlusler-Schmitt, East Lansing’s community development and engagement manager.

Impression 5 science center provides great interactive learning, but always room to improve, say residents and organization

LANSING — Science has a home in the heart of Ingham County. “What we are trying to achieve is giving a space for children to hone their scientific behavior, a space that they can explore things like critical thinking and collaboration and scientific content” says Erik Larson, executive director at the science and learning center Impression 5. Impression 5 is located in downtown Lansing and provides a unique and informal learning environment for children and their families to get excited about science. Larson says, “Impression 5 was created … to create an interactive learning environment so…

Libraries continue to evolve in a technological age

By CASEY HULL
Capital News Service
LANSING — As online technology has crept into everyday life and education, free public access to computers and internet has become an important attraction of public libraries. “There’s a divide between families that have technology available and those who don’t,” said Gail Madziar, director of Michigan Association of Libraries. “If you’re a student that needs to do their homework, sometimes a library is the only place that you have to access information in a safe place.”
Many libraries serving rural populations report significant demand for their online services. For instance, internet services at the Presque Isle district libraries were accessed over 14,000 times in 2017. The county has a population of 13,000.

Trails built, growers boosted with rural development grants

By RILEY MURDOCK
Capital News Service
LANSING — A nonprofit in Marquette is improving trails and promoting sustainable tourism. A distillery in Grand Traverse is buying a second still to contract whiskey distilling using Michigan ingredients. And a pasta company in the same town plans to improve seed processing to further promote the Michigan agriculture industry. These are among the organizations that won Rural Development Fund grants from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2017. The development grants fund projects to help industries that make use of local land, create jobs and support infrastructure that benefits rural communities.