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New Report Measures State of Minnesota Kids

May 7, 2007

The latest Minnesota Kids Count study from the Children's Defense Fund is out. Spokesman Jim Koppel says several things stand out.

“One thing is a significant rise in children living in poverty in Minnesota. We've got a sharp increase in health care uninsured as well.”

Koppel is most concerned about the finding that the number of Minnesota kids living in extreme poverty has increased by over 60 percent since 2000. The report finds 12 percent, or 140,000, of Minnesota kids live in poverty. Other troubling results show more Minnesota kids receiving food support or enrolled in free or reduced-cost school lunches. Koppel says Minnesota can do better.

“All the research has shown that poverty has the biggest impact on a child's life, of any indicator. It usually impacts education. It impacts their health. It impacts their nutrition. It also is directly correlated to crime and success down the road.

Koppel also notes the report shows positive trends, including a drop in the birth rate among teens, a lower school drop-out rate and less child abuse.
He is also encouraged by the proposed state legislation (called the Children's Health Security Act) that would provide health insurance for every Minnesota kid, whatever their parents' income.

“The way the bill would work is to remove a lot of barriers to keep families from enrolling their children in healthcare coverage. That includes everything from high premiums and co-pays to not being eligible because of lengthy, complicated applications. We're going to get rid of a lot of cost barriers for families, and we're going to get more children more health coverage, so they can grow up healthier.”

More information is online at Kids Count is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN