Lower Child Poverty Numbers in MN Don't Tell the Whole Story
ST. PAUL, Minn. — New research shows that the number of Minnesota kids living in poverty dropped significantly in 2015, but the state's child-poverty rate still remains higher than it was in 2008.
Census figures showed 23,000 fewer Minnesota children in poverty in 2015 compared to 2014 - the largest one-year drop since the recession. But that still leaves about 25,000 more children living in poverty than there were eight years ago.
Stephanie Hogenson, research and policy director with the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota, said poverty rates are highest among Native American children and children of color, due in part to disproportionately high unemployment rates in these groups.
"There are some structural barriers within neighborhoods and in employment and hiring practices that often prevent families of color from access to adequate, accessible employment,” Hogenson said.
According to the census data, Minnesota's youngest children were affected at much higher rates than older kids. About six percent of children under age six lived in families with incomes below $12,000 a year.
Hogenson said that state lawmakers could do more to help combat poverty by allocating more money for the Child Care Assistance Program, which helps low-income families afford high-quality child care. She said the program has a waiting list of nearly 6,000 families.
"We would like to see that program fully funded so that all eligible children can access the program, so parents can get back to work while having a safe, consistent place for their kids to go,” Hogenson said.
The Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota also suggested boosting the Minnesota Family Investment Program cash grant for families living in extreme poverty. That program hasn't seen an increase in nearly 30 years.