St. Cloud Times (Minnesota), June 25, 2008: Child poverty grows, report on Minnesota shows

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By Dave Aeikens

A report on children۪s issues shows poverty in the state۪s youngest people has continued to grow since 2001.

The child poverty rate was 11.6 percent in 2006, the most recent year recorded. That number is up from five years earlier when it was 8.7 percent. Minnesota had 152,000 children living in poverty, the report says.

The child poverty rate in Minnesota was 14.3 percent in 1993.

The St. Paul-based Children۪s Defense Fund of Minnesota shared regional numbers with children۪s advocates from Central Minnesota on Tuesday at St. Cloud Public Library.

“There are more children that are falling into poverty this year and last year,” said Elaine Cunningham, outreach director for the Children۪s Defense Fund of Minnesota.

The information in the report is taken from U.S. census material and other data available on children۪s issues and is compiled in the 2008 Kids Count Data Book.

Minnesota has 45 percent of its black children in poverty, the fourth highest in the country, according to the report. Minnesota has about 80,000 black children, which is about 6 percent of the population.

A family of four making $21,000 or less in 2007 was considered living in poverty.

Being poor can cause problems in other areas of children۪s lives because studies show children struggle in school when they are not well fed, said Andi Egbert, research director of the Children۪s Defense Fun Minnesota.

Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties are all below the state average for child poverty rates.

Here is a look at some findings in the report.

Child poverty rates are at 9.5 percent in Benton County, 9.4 percent in Stearns and 5.5 percent in Sherburne County.

The teen birth rate in Benton County is 15.9 per 1,000 15- to 17-year-olds. The state average is 13.3. Stearns has 10.7 and Sherburne has 7.3.

Child care rates in the three counties are cheaper than the state average of $12,840 per year. The average cost for infant care in a full-time center is $9,170 in Stearns, $8,680 in Benton and $9,980 in Sherburne.

The serious crime rate for 10- to 17-year-olds in Stearns County is the second highest in the state. In Stearns, 34.5 youth per 1,000 are arrested in connection with a serious crime. The state average is 19.6, Benton is 6.8 and Sherburne is 14 per 1,000 youth.

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