More children living in poverty in N.D. and Minnesota
The number of children living in poverty rose in both Minnesota and North Dakota in recent years, according to a new report released this week. The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 21st annual Kids Count report tracks 10 categories of children's healt...
The number of children living in poverty rose in both Minnesota and North Dakota in recent years, according to a new report released this week.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 21st annual Kids Count report tracks 10 categories of children's health from 2000 to 2008, ranking states based on how well they did in those factors.
New Hampshire took the No. 1 spot in the country, and Minnesota closely followed to get ranked No. 2 for the second consecutive year. North Dakota's ranking slipped to No. 12 overall, down from No. 7 in 2009's report.
Nationwide, 18 percent of children lived in homes below the poverty guideline in 2008. The averages for North Dakota and Minnesota were less than the national figure, but both states saw increases in the number of children living in poverty since 2007.
The number in North Dakota rose by more than 2,300 children from last year's findings, meaning 15 percent of children lived in homes with incomes below the poverty levels in 2008. That figure ranked the state No. 18 in the country.
Minnesota fared better in this category, with 11 percent of children living in poverty in 2008. But that's still a jump from the 9 percent rate recorded in 2000.
Minnesota ranked lowest in the percentage of low-birth-weight babies -- 6.7 percent, which put the state in a tie with Utah at ninth place. But the state had the country's lowest percentage of high school dropouts (3 percent) and percentage of teens ages 16 to 19 who aren't attending school and not working (4 percent).
North Dakota ranked No. 3 in the country for both its percentage of kids living in families where no parent has a year-round, full-time job (20 percent) and percentage of children in single-parent families (24 percent).
But the state's teen death rate, defined as the number of deaths per 100,000 teenagers 15-19, was one of the worst in the country in 2007. The rate, 89, was well above the national average of 62 and was bad enough to rank North Dakota No. 44.
'Not a surprise'
Pat Berger, president of the United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Area, said the rise in poverty rates is something that is being noticed around the community.
She's seen an increase in the number of local families accessing food shelves on both sides of the Red River "to help stretch their food dollars," she said.
"Unfortunately, the finding is not a surprise," Berger said.
The United Way dedicated some of its funds to support a free summer lunch program for children operated by St. Vincent of Grand Forks. It's a program that first started in 2008, when 2,940 lunches were served.
But St. Vincent has seen a big increase since, and more than 7,500 meals have been served at six locations around Grand Forks from June 1 to July 23.
And Berger expects to see the number of children in poverty increase even more in next year's Kids Count report -- which lags behind by two years, so the full effect of the economic downturn might not be seen in this year's findings.
She said the local United Way has created a task force that will focus on education. The goal, Berger said, is to help children of all income brackets have a better chance and be ready for school when it starts.
"Education is certainly one of the great ways to lift yourself out of poverty," she said.
But it will take a collective effort from the state and communities to help address the issue of childhood poverty, Berger said.
"I think everyone needs to come to the table, if you will," she said. "We're talking about helping the next generation here in Grand Forks and North Dakota, so we all need to think: How can we collaborate together to help with this problem?"
On the web: More about the latest Kids Count report at http://datacenter.kidscount.org
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