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Report: Accurate Census Count Among Key Issues for MN Kids

The annual Minnesota Kids Count Data Book says an accurate count of all children in the 2020 Census will go a long way to ensure that social services and support systems are well funded. (Getthepicture)
The annual Minnesota Kids Count Data Book says an accurate count of all children in the 2020 Census will go a long way to ensure that social services and support systems are well funded. (Getthepicture)
November 14, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota needs to make sure all children are counted as part of the 2020 U.S. Census, according to an annual report that serves as an indicator of child and family well-being in the state.

The new 2019 Kids Count Data Book says more than 7,000 Minnesota children from birth through age four were not counted in the 2010 Census – even though Minnesota had the second-highest initial response rate among states for that census.

Bharti Wahi, executive director of the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota, says an under-count can have a big impact on how public systems are funded.

"Given how critical public programs, and supports and benefits are calculated based on census and the demographic information, it's a critical component," he stresses.

Wahi says a strong outreach network has already been established for next year's census count, so she is confident the state will account for all of its residents.

The Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota released the Kids Count Data Book Thursday, with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

This year's report also highlights ongoing concerns about achievement gaps in education.

It says between 2016 and 2019, test scores showed only about one in four African -American and Native American students in Minnesota was proficient in math, compared to nearly 63% of students who identified as white.

Wahi says making sure all families have steady employment and stable housing can help close these gaps.

"When a child has these pieces in place, they're able to attend to their academic day in a way that a child who may be struggling with housing stability would not," she points out.

The report also recommends that school systems hire more teachers who reflect the identities of students of color. It says that can help improve attendance rates, as well as standardized test scores.

Disclosure: Children's Defense Fund- Minnesota Chapter contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN