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|Contact: Kara Arzamendia
September 20, 2012
St. Paul, MN- According to numbers released today by the U.S. Census American Community Survey, the percent of children living in poverty in Minnesota continues to grow. Now 80,000 more children are living in poverty compared to 2000 (114,000), an increase of about 70 percent. Officially, an estimated 194,000 (15.4%) children were living in poverty in Minnesota in 2011, a trend that has continued to increase for more than 10 years. Compared to last year, the number increased only slightly by 2,000 children from 192,000 in 2010.
Fortunately, there is ample research outlining what can be done to combat child poverty and turn these numbers in a new direction. Research supports a two-generation approach by starting early with children while supporting the families who care for them.
Investments in early childhood education reap benefits in public savings like decreased costs in health care and criminal justice and increased productivity. Unlike middle- and upper- class children who have opportunities that support good health and academic success, children living in poverty do not have the same opportunities. They need a public commitment to ensure a strong start. Unfortunately, very little public investment has been made in Minnesota to guarantee children receive quality early opportunities like home visits and preschool to prepare them for success.
Furthermore, because children are poor based on their family’s economic situation, there is a need for increased investment to support work and self-sufficiency. Work itself cannot be the only answer, as most of the children living in poor families have employed parents.
Ultimately work should pay, but the reality is it often does not. For example, the federal poverty threshold for a family of four in 2011 was about $22,350 a year, while a full-time minimum wage worker would only earn about $15,000 a year. Because minimum wage does not allow a family to meet a basic cost of living, investments in work support programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit and child care assistance are critical to keep families out of poverty. Without these supports, families will struggle to move to a place of self-sufficiency so they can support their families.
For more information about Minnesota’s children, visit www.cdf-mn.org or follow us on Twitter at @cdfmn or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Childrens-Defense-Fund-MN/125043458211