Kids Count: Southwest Minn. better than U.S.WORTHINGTON — Counties in southwest Minnesota have more children living in poverty than the state as a whole, according to KIDS COUNT data recently released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
WORTHINGTON — Counties in southwest Minnesota have more children living in poverty than the state as a whole, according to KIDS COUNT data recently released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The organization releases an annual report on measures of child-well-being on the national, state and community level.
Of the six area counties analyzed, only two — Murray (11 percent) and Rock (11.2 percent) — had a lower percentage of children living in poverty than Minnesota as a whole (11.4 percent).
Considering data from 2008, the most recent available, Cottonwood County had the highest poverty rate with nearly 16 percent. But all area counties fared better than the nation as a whole, where 18 percent of children live in households where the income is below $21,834 for a family of four.
The only county with a significant fluctuation in the past decade was Nobles County, where the rate jumped from 13 percent in 2004 to 19.5 percent in 2007 and down to 15.3 percent in 2008.
Poverty is caused by many factors, said Beth Mahoney, the Family & Children’s Social Service Supervisor for Nobles County.
“It varies so much; I don’t know that we’re much different than any other county right now,” she said. “Single parent family homes are … something that’s going to have a direct effect on family income. It’s hard enough for those of us with two incomes.”
Nobles County also leads the pack when it comes to the percentage of children receiving free or reduced lunch in 2009: 53 percent of Nobles County children eat discounted or free lunch, while the statewide percentage is closer to 36.
Jackson, Rock and Murray counties fall below the state, while Cottonwood and Pipestone also have a higher percentage than Minnesota.
Minnesota rates second only to New Hampshire when it comes to child well-being as defined by 10 key indicators: the percentage of low-birthweight babies, infant mortality rate, children and teen death rate, teen pregnancy rate, percent of teens not in school and not working, percent of children living in families where no parent has stable employment, percent of children in poverty and percent of children in single-parent homes.
The report also includes demographic information and statistics on family-, health- and safety-related indicators and more.
To view the full report, visit datacenter.kidscount.org/