Study shows Minnesota kids struggling

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The National Kids Count Data found that more than 13 million children in the U.S. were living in poverty in 2004, an increase of 1 million over four years. The data produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that children in Minnesota did worse in 2003 and 2004 than they did in 2000 in six of ten areas studied. The Minnesota Kids Count Data released in May found similar trends including thousands more children without health care. “Although Minnesota still rates high in several key indicators of child well-being, trends found in both state and national versions of ‘Kids Count’ data should give policy makers reasons for concern,” said Children’s Defense Fund, MN officials.

“This should be a wake up call for policy makers, that recent divestments in health care, child care, and education are beginning to negatively affect the well being of kids across Minnesota,” said Jim Koppel, CDF, MN Director. “Every dollar invested in health care, education and security for children is returned several-fold in the form of fewer costly health problems, better school readiness and a more prepared work force. Low and middle income Minnesota families are working harder and spending a larger share of their income on housing, health care, child care and energy costs.”

Diane Krizan, Way to Grow Development Director said, “The economic disparities in class, race, and in the urban and suburban core, concern me. I am always encouraged to see business and civic leaders raise awareness and have concern about disparities. It is the root to a lot of economic and education problems; this is why I am drawn to work with children.”

“I am very concerned about the rising teen death rate in Minnesota. We know that about eight children or teens die everyday in the U.S. from violence, and the firearm death rate among American children under age fifteen is far higher than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. While this is a complex problem, important steps we could take for our children include reducing access to guns by supporting gun safety measures, as well as creating positive spaces and activities for kids so they have alternatives and safe havens from violence,” said Andi Egbert, CDF MN Research Director.

Cuts in recent years “have not kept up with inflation,” said Koppel. “When some of these cuts have been restored, they still fall short of previous levels. State and Federal law makers have been unwilling to raise revenue to cover these shortfalls and have passed costs on to either families or to the local level. This has left localities or school districts with the hard choice of either cutting services or raising taxes, and it has left families struggling to afford health care, child care, housing, food and other basic needs. The solution to the problem requires all citizens, policy makers including the governor, State law makers, our Congressional delegation as well as people who work in the fields of child advocacy to understand how these trends will affect Minnesota’s future and come together to enact solutions.”

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