ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Echo Press Editorial: Minnesota’s children are in deep trouble

April 12-18 is "The Week of the Young Child," an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It celebrates early learning, young children, their teachers and families. Many of them could use some ...

We are part of The Trust Project.

April 12-18 is “The Week of the Young Child,” an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
It celebrates early learning, young children, their teachers and families.
Many of them could use some cheering up, or better yet, much-needed help.
Just last week, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) released a first-of-its-kind report showing that the share of children living in poverty increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade.
More than 70,000 children are in deep poverty, with family incomes below half the federal poverty limit, DHS leaders noted.
Those who no longer have young children or are living comfortably may not think this affects them. But it impacts the entire state.
Studies show that poor children are less likely to be ready for kindergarten and more likely to experience intergenerational poverty, involvement with the criminal justice system and more health risks, such as smoking and drinking.
The DHS report examined the lives of nearly 400,000 children who qualify for health care programs, Medical Assistance and Minnesota Care. Gaining a better understanding of their situation can help find ways of turning things around for these children. Among the findings:
• One fifth received child protection services during the last five years.
• One quarter have a parent who speaks a language other than English most of the time.

• Four-fifths live in families with income below the federal poverty guidelines – $24,250 for a family of four, or $15,930 for a family of two,
• Nearly two-thirds live in a single-parent household.
• One third live in areas of concentrated poverty.
• More than 10 percent have a parent with a diagnosed serious mental illness.
• Ten percent have a parent with a recent chemical dependency diagnosis.
• Eight percent have a parent who reported being homeless in the past five years.
DHS leaders point out that keeping these children safe and healthy depends on much more than our traditional health care system. Understanding how these risk factors influence the health of children and their use of health care services will help integrate community and medical resources to serve them more effectively.
DHS plans to study how these issues affect whether children are receiving health care such as immunizations and well-child visits.
Turning things around is a big challenge but it starts with knowing what we’re up against.
“This work gives us more insight into the lives of children in poverty,” Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said. “But we won’t stop here. We will build on this knowledge to more effectively serve these children. The paths they take are dependent not only on the stability of their families, but also on how well our services and supports are coordinated and delivered.
We need to understand what services are needed and measure these services by successful family outcomes.”

What To Read Next
This week in history in Douglas County.
The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
This week in history in Douglas County.
This week in history in Douglas County.