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At least 15 dead as severe weather sweeps across central US; on Memorial Day, IA labor leaders honor fallen workers; Medical center installs microgrid to safeguard clinic power supply; 'Second look' laws gain traction, but MS sticks to elderly parole; Will summer heat melt New Mexicans' cravings for ice cream?

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One congressman cites ways Biden could get more support from communities of color. A new Louisiana law reclassifies two abortion medications as controlled substances. And Ohio advocates work to boost youth voter turnout.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Policy Experts 'Look Under the Hood' for Child Well-Being in ND

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Wednesday, June 14, 2023   

An annual report measuring child well-being in the U.S. said several benchmarks have worsened. States like North Dakota fared better in the overall rankings, but a regional policy expert said there is still work to do.

The latest Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation now includes firm data from post-pandemic years, giving policy groups and nonprofits a better sense of how childhood development was affected by the crisis.

Xanna Burg, director of Kids Count North Dakota, said the state ranks 11th in the U.S. for overall child well-being and 6th for economic factors, but many kids still live in struggling households.

"18,000 children in North Dakota still live in poverty," Burg pointed out. "That's still a lot of children and a lot of families that are struggling just to meet their basic needs."

Amid nationwide issues in finding affordable child care, Burg acknowledged North Dakota deserves credit for adding significant funding during this year's legislative session. Nationally, the Data Book cited worsening trends in reading and math scores, and for North Dakota, education is a trouble spot, ranking 35th among the states in this category.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said more attention also should be paid to the decline in the overall mental well-being of kids and young people. The U.S. Surgeon General has declared it an epidemic.

"It's important that we make sure that children and young people have the mental health supports that they need," Boissiere contended. "So that they continue to flourish, and so that they can become healthy and productive members of our society."

She added other health concerns include increases in children with obesity, as well as babies born at low birth weights. In North Dakota, nearly 30% of children and teens are considered overweight or obese.

Disclosure: The Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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