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Access, Affordability Biggest Issues for Greater MN Kids in Poverty

May 31, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - It's becoming more difficult for families outside the Twin Cities to afford and access critical basic needs, according to new KIDS COUNT research. Kara Arzemendia, research director with the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota, says part of the problem is simply the shortages around the Minnesota.

"Access to things like health care, full-service grocery stores and child care can be limited or even nonexistent in some parts of our state."

Arzemendia says even when families live in communities where resources exist, many people cannot afford them because they hold low-wage jobs.

"They're not going to be sufficient enough for a family to be able to make ends meet, to be able to provide for their children all the things that they need. So, even though families are working really hard - and we have high workforce participation in the state - a lot of times, the flip side is that work doesn't pay enough."

To help these families, Arzemendia suggests better outreach efforts, getting those who are eligible enrolled in programs and connecting them with services. Among the promising practices now under way, she cites the "Helping People Get There" program at the Heartland Community Action Agency in Willmar.

"They try to connect people with reliable transportation. That is a huge issue for families in Greater Minnesota: finding reliable transportation they can depend on to get their kids to day care or school, to get themselves to a job, to go and get food that they need for their family."

About 45 percent of the children in poverty in Minnesota live outside the seven-county metro area.

More information is available at www.cdf-mn.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN