ST. PAUL, Minn. – Once a year, the Children’s Defense Fund releases a slew of data that show how well children are doing in Minnesota. That report comes out today and it shows the Minnesota population getting older and more ethnically diverse.
A key finding, says the Children’s Defense Fund outreach director, Stephanie Hogenson, is a need for further investment in support for low-income families.
“We’ve maybe leveled off since the recession but we really haven’t made the gains for low-income families that are necessary to ensure children have their basic needs met and access to opportunities,” she explains.
Hogensen says a bright spot in the report is the record low number of children without health insurance. The Affordable Health Care Act and Minnesota’s expansion of Medicaid have meant 97 percent of kids are insured.
The report says by 2035, people over 65 in Minnesota will outnumber school-age children for the first time in history. Hogenson says it’s time for policymakers to plan for that day by ensuring kids, families and communities are safe and secure. She says programs like the low-income tax credit and minimum wage hikes can help, but the state can do better.
“The rate of children in out-of-home placement is increasing, particularly for populations of color and specifically American Indian children are in out-of-home placement at 17 times the rate of white children in our state,” she says.
Hogensen says improving programs like childcare assistance and parental leave would go a long way toward addressing disparities in opportunity.
“We need to shift our public policies in order to keep up with relatively good outcomes that Minnesota has had overall and pay particular attention to removing barriers and opportunities that drive disparities in outcomes particularly for children of color and American Indian children,” she adds.
CDF-MN will hold KIDS COUNT coffee events across the state over the next several months to share the findings in the databook, including county-level data. The kick-off event is today at 10 at the Cookie Cart in North Minneapolis.