ST. PAUL (Oct. 27, 2014) — Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota (CDF-MN) has released the 2014 Minnesota KIDS COUNT Data Book: Budgeting for Better Child Outcomes at its KIDS COUNT Coffee Tour Kick-Off.
This year’s Data Book examines the compounding effects economic instability has on children in families that are not able to meet basic needs such as food, housing, health care, child care, transportation, and other necessities. Research shows that children experiencing food insecurity have more trouble concentrating and behaving in school, children without health insurance are more likely to receive delayed care when they’re sick or injured, and children who don’t attend preschool are less likely to be prepared for and successful in school.
“Minnesota’s future depends on every child in the state having access to basic needs such as food, health care, and housing, as well as equal access to opportunities that help guarantee a brighter future such as high-quality early education, summer learning programs and college preparation classes,” said Stephanie Hogenson, CDF-MN Research and Policy Director. “Children growing up in households with lower incomes are more likely to have lower earnings, fewer work hours, poorer health and less schooling as adults. Investing in children in their early years will ensure a better educated and healthier workforce and reduce the use of high-cost remedial services in the future.”
Child poverty rates in Minnesota have hovered around 15 percent since 2009. But economic instability, and its effects on children, isn’t limited to families living in poverty. Nearly one-third of Minnesota children live in low-income families, defined as having household incomes below twice the poverty level, or $46,566 per year for a family of four. The cost of a basic needs budget for a family of four in Minnesota is nearly $50,000 per year. Research indicates that low-income children face disparities in education, health, and development similar to children in poverty.
Economic instability affects children of color in Minnesota at higher rates than White children. While 24 percent of White children live in low-income households, 74 percent of Black children, 71 percent of American Indian children, 61 percent of Hispanic or Latino children, and 48 percent of Asian children live in low-income households. Compounded by other barriers such as higher rates of parental unemployment, higher rates of living in poor or unsafe neighborhoods, and structural racism, the disparities faced by children of color and American Indian children create a steeper ladder to success.
To improve outcomes for lower income children, the Data Book highlights the importance of work support programs in bridging the gap between low wages and the cost of basic needs as well as supporting families in developing assets so they can weather the inevitable financial storms of flat tires, pink slips, and medical emergencies.
“We need to take a two-generation approach to improving family economic stability by ensuring work pays enough for parents to provide for their children and supporting programs and policies that increase access to opportunities that promote healthy child development,” said Peggy Flanagan, CDF-MN Executive Director. “One way to do this is by fully funding Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program to ensure all eligible families, including the nearly 7,000 on the program’s waitlist, can access this program that allows parents to work and afford a consistent and safe child care experience for their children.”
This year’s Data Book includes stories from real Minnesota families facing economic instability, and analysis using CDF-MN’s Economic Stability Indicator, a tool that illustrates a family’s ability, or inability, to make ends meet each month. The analysis looks at enrollment in various work support programs and tax credits to demonstrate how these programs can work to improve family economic stability.
About the KIDS COUNT Data Book and KIDS COUNT Coffee Tour: Every year, CDF-MN publishes the Minnesota KIDS COUNT Data Book through a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The book provides state data based on a variety of indicators that show the well-being of Minnesota’s children and families. The data serve as benchmarks of child well-being for policymakers and citizens and help to enrich local, state, and national discussions concerning ways to secure better futures for all children. CDF-MN organizes an annual KIDS COUNT Coffee Tour around the release of the book to provide policymakers and citizens from around the state with the opportunity to learn about the data and engage on issues of child well-being.
The KIDS COUNT Coffee Tour will visit the following cities:
Duluth – November 3
Elbow Lake – November 6
Owatonna – November 11
Brooklyn Center – November 13
White Bear Lake – November 14
Grand Rapids – November 17
Mankato – November 18
Willmar – November 19
Bemidji – details to come
Stillwater – details to come
Plymouth – details to come
Detroit Lakes – details to come