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Kids’ Report Finds High Poverty in MN

October 1, 2009

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The 2009 Minnesota Kids Count report is out - a measure of the state's well-being. According to Kara Arzamendia, research director with Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota, the news is not good.

"We found that about 140,000 children, ages zero to 17, were living in poverty in 2008. That's about 11 percent of all children. This number has pretty much stayed constant for the last few years."

Arzamendia says the report projects about 50,000 children could be added to that number before the economy recovers. Further, she calculates, kids in poverty cost almost $6 billion in services, related expenses and problems each year because they don't have safe, healthy housing, quality child care, nutritious meals or health care coverage. She says they also are likely to fall behind in school and be unprepared for the workforce.

Arzamendia suggests two steps Minnesota should take that would make a difference in the poverty numbers.

"First, we need to look at fully funding child care. Second, definitely, we need health care coverage for all Minnesota children, so that we can ensure a strong and healthy future. Anything we invest in health care coverage for kids would pay for itself in decreased health care costs later on in life."

The numbers come from census data. According to other report findings, 88,000 kids don't have health care coverage and a third of Minnesota children received free or reduced-price lunches during the school year. On the positive side, fewer students have dropped out of school, fewer children were abused or neglected and fewer kids were arrested for a serious crime.

More information is available at www.cdf-mn.org. The report is being released at a news conference today at 10 a.m. at Southside Family Nurturing Center, 2448 18th Ave South, Minneapolis.



Jim Wishner, Public News Service - MN