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Minnesota Child Advocates Touring to Highlight Poverty Problems

Child advocates are touring Minnesota to highlight issues of poverty and racial disparities. Credit: Gosia79/Morguefile.com
Child advocates are touring Minnesota to highlight issues of poverty and racial disparities. Credit: Gosia79/Morguefile.com
November 9, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Earlier this year, Minnesota was ranked the top state for the well-being of children, but a children's advocacy group is touring the state to show there's still work to be done.

According to the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota, the state's child poverty rate rose three percent from 2008 to 2013. Stephanie Hogenson, research and policy director for the Children's Defense Fund, says that problem's being highlighted in the latest Minnesota Kids Count Data Book, which is being released this week.

"This year's data book really focuses on increasing access to opportunities for children of color and American Indian children," she says. "We have many great programs and policies that are implemented across the state, but not all children who are eligible can access them."

Hogenson hopes this year's Kids Count Coffee Tour, which starts Tuesday in Minneapolis, will help communities and lawmakers continue to talk about which programs are working, and which are not.

When it comes to low-income families with kids, Hogenson says Minnesota can do better to improve economic stability, and access to both healthcare and early childhood education programs.

"Those solutions are already out there, they just need to be brought to scale and implemented in ways that they're accessible to all children," says Hogenson.

Researchers also found Minnesota's overall child population has been stagnating, while the number of children of color has been increasing rapidly.

Already 30 percent of school children are either children of color or American Indian. Hogenson says the state needs to focus more on preparing those kids for success if Minnesota is to remain economically competitive.

"We have a booming retiring population, and those jobs that the older population are holding are going to be replaced by our children," she says.

The 2015 Kids Count Coffee Tour will stop in more than a dozen Minnesota communities through the end of the month.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN