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New report: Minnesota ranks No. 5 for overall child well-being

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A new national report says Minnesota ranks No. 5 for overall child well-being, although troubling economic gaps between white children and children of color persist. Last year, Minnesota ranked No. 4.

The annual KIDS COUNT report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in partnership with the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota, examines 16 indicators and ranks states on four areas (see more detailed data for Minnesota at bottom):

Economic Well-being: Minnesota ranked No. 4 (behind North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa).

Education: Minnesota No.6 (behind Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut)

Health: Minnesota No. 17

Family and Community: Minnesota No. 5 (behind New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, North Dakota)

For overall well-being, the report found that just four states fare better than Minnesota: Massachusetts, Vermont, Iowa and New Hampshire.

North Dakota ranked No. 6 for overall child well-being. Wisconsin was No. 13.

But MPR News notes that the report found that Minnesota has some of the worst economic disparities in the nation when it comes to children, with almost half of the state's black children living in poverty.

Minnesota needs to invest more in early childhood education and boost its elementary and secondary school programs, Stephanie Hogenson, research and policy director for the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, told Forum News Service. She said children of color need to be encouraged to go to college.

“We really can’t afford to lose one child to poverty, poor health or crime,” she told Forum.

The KIDS COUNT data book has been produced since 1990 as an effort to give state and national policy makers baseline data on the well-being of children. In the last decade, Minnesota has ranked in the top five among states for overall child well-being.

Click here for more data snapshots for Minnesota compared to the national data.

More state-specific data from the report for Minnesota (2012 data):

Economic Well-being:

  • Children in poverty: 15 percent (184,000 children), up from 12 percent in 2005
  • Children whose parents lack secure employment: 24 percent (312,000 children), up from 22 percent in 2008
  • Children living in households with a high housing cost burden: 29 percent (369,000 children), down from 32 percent in 2005
  • Teens not in school and not working: 5 percent (14,000 teens), up from 4 percent in 2008


  • Children not attending preschool: 54 percent (76,000 children). That's down from 58 percent in 2005-07.
  • Fourth graders not proficient in reading: 59 percent. That's down from 62 percent in 2005.
  • Eighth graders not proficient in math: 53 percent. That's down from 57 percent in 2005.
  • High school students not graduating on time: 12 percent. That's down from 14 percent in 2005-06.


  • Low-birthweight babies: 6.6 percent (4,550 babies), up slightly from 6.5 percent in 2005.
  • Children without insurance: 5 percent (68,000 children), down from 6 percent in 2008.
  • Child and teen deaths per 100,000: 25 (342 deaths), same rate as 2005.
  • Teens who abuse alcohol or drugs: 7 percent (29,000 teens), down from 9 percent in 2005-06.

Family and Community:

  • Children in single-parent families: 29 percent (354,o00 children), up from 25 percent in 2005.
  • Children in families where the household head lacks high school diploma: 8 percent, same as 2005.
  • Children living in high-poverty areas: 6 percent (75,000 children), up from 3 percent in 2000.
  • Teen births per 1,000: 19 (3,295 births), down from 26 in 2005.

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