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MN Slips to Lowest-Ever Ranking for Children's Well-Being

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July 25, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota has received some mixed news in the latest look at the health and well-being of its children.

The KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks the state fifth in the nation overall. While that's good comparatively, Kara Arzamendia, research director for the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota, says it isn't where the state wants to be.

"We were always in the top one or two - maybe three - over the last 10 years or more. Minnesota has now dropped to No. 5 overall, which is actually the worst ranking we've ever had."

She says this year's rankings include 16 indicators, a change from years past. While Minnesota saw some improvements in terms of health and education, it struggled in areas of economic well-being.

Of particular concern in Minnesota, Arzamendia says, is the increase in the number of children living in neighborhoods of poverty - and the increase in the percentage of children without health insurance, which has risen to 84,000.

"We were actually one of the only states in the nation to see an increase in that area. So, all other states are making improvements, working toward covering more children, whereas Minnesota is losing ground. We actually saw a 17 percent increase in the amount of children without health insurance."

On a positive note, Arzamendia says, the report shows improvements in many of the indicators involving adolescents and teens.

"The percent of high school students that are not graduating on time has actually gone down. We're seeing decreases in the teen birth rate, which is great. Also, the percent of teens who abuse drugs and alcohol is actually also going down; we've seen an 11 percent decrease in that indicator."

More information is online at cdf-mn.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN