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Report: MN Must Build Community in Times of Change

As a state, Minnesota would see greater prosperity if it did more to support low-income families, according to a new report from the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota. (nacac.org)
As a state, Minnesota would see greater prosperity if it did more to support low-income families, according to a new report from the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota. (nacac.org)
October 24, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota's future prosperity hinges on its ability to improve the lives of its youngest residents, and new research says this includes state programs and policies that provide all children with what they need to become successful adults.

That objective is part of the new 2018 Minnesota Kids Count Data Book from the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota. This year's report is entitled, "Building Community in a Time of Changing Needs."

Executive director Bharti Wahi said the data book looks at trends in child and family well-being to identify public policy that has improved or could be improved.

"I think it really is about going and talking to folks," she said, "talking to children and families and young people across the state in communities of color, in small towns, in American Indian communities - and then really shape and craft policy solutions."

The Children's Defense Fund is to kick off the first of several Data Book presentations with a coffee gathering beginning at 10:30 a.m. today at the Rochester Area Foundation. A second coffee will be held next Tuesday at the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center in Minneapolis.

According to the report, one in 10 Minnesota children lives in poverty, including more than one in four American Indian children and children of color. For nonwhite children, Wahi said, that typically means they can't access high-quality early education and consistently fall behind their white peers.

"I think we continue to see widespread disparities, and although those are not surprising, they are awfully concerning," she said. "These are disparities that have long existed, and we've got to do something different."

Wahi said the report points to the need for greater investment in programs that help support and stabilize lower-income families, since research shows that strong families build strong children.

The report is online at cdf-mn.org.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN