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More ND Kids Growing up in Poor Neighborhoods



February 23, 2012

BISMARCK, N.D. - Despite its better-than-average economy, North Dakota is seeing a growing number of children who live in communities of high poverty.

A new KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation also points out a growing number of such neighborhoods. The surprise there, says Karen Olson, information specialist for North Dakota KIDS COUNT, is the increase in urban areas.

"When we look at the 2000 data, less than 500 children in both the cities of Fargo and Grand Forks were living in these high-poverty areas. That number now is closer to 4,000 children."

The report released today points to tribal lands as the other area of concern. Overall, 7 percent of children in North Dakota are growing up in a so-called high-poverty community. Nationally, the figure is 11 percent.

Far less surprising, Olson says, was the finding that North Dakota tribal lands have some of the highest rates of children living in high-poverty communities. The Standing Rock, Spirit Lake and Turtle Mountain reservations have had some of the highest poverty rates in the state for decades, she says.

"These current data are showing that within these three reservations, there are poverty rates well over 30 percent, which is these high-concentration areas, and within North Dakota that's affecting about 7,000 children."

The report calls for transforming disadvantaged communities and makes several recommendations which can be tailored to each area. Laura Speer, the Casey Foundation's associate director of policy reform, says the idea is to make those neighborhoods better places to raise children.

"We know that it's important to support the families in the communities in terms of giving them access to financial coaching, as well as helping them with gaining employment skills."

The full report is online at AECF.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND