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Vulnerable children & families

About 1 in 5 children in Michigan live in poverty. Bridge will explore the reasons behind this disturbing result and the ideas to address it.

PHOTO GALLERY: A U.P. town like no other

Sawyer is a community carved from a ghost town. More than 20 years after the U.S. Air Force left its base behind, it is an isolated Upper Peninsula outpost in need of jobs, transportation, a grocery store, laundromat, more activities for youth, as well as additional drug treatment for adults.

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Human trafficking fight plagued by bad data, as well as bad guys

Sex and labor trafficking are problems. But the state is left to create laws with no reliable data on the scope of problem in Michigan, or even a common understanding of what constitutes trafficking. Too often, Hollywood fills the vacuum.




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Are prostitutes lawbreakers or trafficking victims?

A human trafficking court in Washtenaw County is dispensing with assembly line prosecution of prostitutes. Instead, the court identifies whether women have been coerced into the sex trade, and offers them services to begin a new life.




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What government owes Flint’s poisoned immigrant community

Latino immigrants, including some in the U.S. illegally, were among the last to know about lead in Flint’s water. What is the state’s duty to help hard-to-find residents?




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Far from Flint, lead remains an irreversible scourge

Lead poisoning rates have dropped dramatically in Michigan over the past decade. But in many cities and towns, child exposure rates far exceed those in Flint.

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Interactive map: Places with higher lead rates than Flint

Check out cities across Michigan with high lead exposure rates, as well as rates in your neighborhood




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Teen births declining in Michigan. But hurdles in northern, rural counties.

‘Babies having babies’ isn’t the problem it once was. But rates are higher in northern, rural counties, in a state where school districts may opt out of sex ed entirely.

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Michigan teen birth rate by county

The nation's teen birth rate has been falling since the early 1990s, and Michigan has generally tracked with that drop. But some counties remain above the state level of 7.8 percent of all births.

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For impoverished Michiganders, a little help in the kitchen

Low-income people often find it harder to eat well. Classes designed to teach basic cooking skills, and how to find food growing wild on vacant lots, aim to fill the gap.




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With state welfare cuts, caseworkers fear less time to help families

Grand Rapids DHS office took the biggest hit, losing 35 workers. That could leave overburdened caseworkers with a heavier administrative load.




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Poverty in paradise:

In northern counties, workers and business find each other lacking

There’s work to be done in the resort counties of northern Michigan, but opportunity doesn’t always match the available workforce.




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Poverty in paradise:

Hidden poverty stalks a Pure Michigan setting

For many unseen residents of northern Michigan, life can be struggle for survival. This is true even for those with jobs, which tend to be seasonal with marginal pay




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Poverty in paradise:

Postcard: When elk is for dinner

Food pantries, like their customers, mostly take what they can get.




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Poverty in paradise:

Postcard: A roof and a bed

The homeless are about in rural northern Michigan, John McLintock sets out to find them.




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How Michigan can improve the lives of 80,000 homeless children

The safety net is anything but secure for homeless children and families across the state. Bridge reviews some approaches that have shown promise elsewhere.




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Grand Rapids shelter helps one teen find escape

Runaway and unaccompanied teens navigate a treacherous world




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Michigan ranks in bottom half of state nationally in care for homeless children

A national report finds nearly 80,000 homeless children in Michigan, with a lack of state planning to deal with the problem.




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Along Michigan’s back roads, thousands of homeless children

Brenda Greenhoe scours abandoned garages and backwoods lots in rural counties, bringing adrift children to school.




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