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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Patience urged as MN policies evolve to improve outcomes for kids

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024   

Despite a handful of concerning results for child well-being in Minnesota, one policy expert says the state is well positioned to make structural improvements to shore up its overall high ranking.

This week's new Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation places Minnesota fifth in the nation for child well-being. But issues in education, such as low test scores, stood out, both at the state and national level.

Deb Fitzpatrick, director of policy and research with Children's Defense Fund, said investments by last year's Legislature, such as universal lunches and new funding for early education, haven't shown up yet in these metrics.

"And I would expect that those numbers are going to start to reflect those huge investments and that incredible focus on making Minnesota the best place to be a kid, " she explained.

Fitzpatrick acknowledged some districts still face major budget constraints, despite the big boosts in state aid. But she noted in this year's session, lawmakers did follow up with additional support to help implement strategies from 2023, including one that requires "evidence-based" reading instruction to boost literacy scores.

Some housing-related policies failed to advance this year, after big investments from last year. Like education, Fitzpatrick hopes the 2023 moves will prove to be helpful for families with children who lack housing stability.

"We know when kids have to move a lot - you know, when you're a renter, often you end up in a situation where you have to move a lot - and we know every time those moves happen, it can set kids back as well," she continued.

A new statewide rental voucher program and increased support for first-time home buyers are among the things Children's Defense Fund is monitoring. Fitzpatrick suggested all these wraparound issues tie together in giving kids who are falling behind a level playing field as their futures take shape.

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.


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