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Growing up Poor: A Story Shared by Many MN Children

PHOTO: Minnesota is being urged to do more to help families strengthen their financial footing, as about one-third of the state's children are growing up in low income households. Photo credit: Tammra McCauley/Flickr.
PHOTO: Minnesota is being urged to do more to help families strengthen their financial footing, as about one-third of the state's children are growing up in low income households. Photo credit: Tammra McCauley/Flickr.
October 27, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. – For children growing up in a family that struggles financially, the road can be rougher – and a new study shows that poor is the norm for many of Minnesota's children.

According to the latest Kids Count Data Book, about one-third of children in the state are in low-income families, where it's a stretch just to meet the basic needs.

The negative impacts of that on children often continue later in life, says Stephanie Hogenson, research and policy director for the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota.

"And so what we're finding is as adults they're going to have fewer earnings, poorer health and less schooling,” she points out. “And then they're going to be more likely to rely on assistance programs as adults."

To improve the outcomes for these children, Hogenson says there needs to be more opportunities for them to learn, grow and thrive, and a stronger focus on improving the financial stability of their parents.

She says one way to help strengthen the budget for low-income families is through work-support programs.

"The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, WIC, medical programs were created by the government to bridge that gap between low wages and basic needs,” she says. “And so when families are able to enroll in these programs, we can improve their economic stability."

Hogenson adds the research also shows that higher rates of these children are in single parent homes or are children of color.

"What we need to do is look at these disparities, create programs and policies that target specific families, that are culturally relevant and take a two-generation approach," she stresses.

A statewide series of more than a dozen community discussions on the trends outlined in this latest study begins today in the Twin Cities. Other stops in the weeks to come will include Bemidji, Duluth, Mankato and Willmar.



John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN