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Minnesota ranks at the top in child well-being

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota is ranked No. 1 nationally in child well-being, while North Dakota is ranked No. 8, in the 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book released this week.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota is ranked No. 1 nationally in child well-being, while North Dakota is ranked No. 8, in the 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book released this week.

It’s the second year in a row that Minnesota has earned the top ranking, thanks to being ranked first in measures of child health (up from second last year), third in economic well-being (up from fifth last year), fourth in family and community and sixth in education.

It is also the seventh year Minnesota has taken the top spot in the rankings since they were first issued in 1990, KIDS COUNT reports.

North Dakota slipped a spot, down from being No. 7 in the nation in child well-being in 2015.

North Dakota’s strength is still economic well-being, ranking second in 2016 (slipping from first in 2015). The state was ranked sixth in measures of family and community, 14th in education, and 17th in health.

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The rankings are largely based on data from 2014, the latest year available.

Despite its top ranking, Minnesota continues to have great disparities in health, education and economic outcomes for children of color.

In 2014, 65,000 more Minnesota children lived in low-income families than in 2008. Nearly three-quarters of black and American Indian children, nearly two-thirds of Hispanic or Latino children, and almost half of Asian children, compared to less than a quarter of white children, live in low income households, KIDS COUNT reports.

Minnesota does have one of the lowest uninsured rates for children at 4 percent, but the rate for American Indian children is 16 percent. For Latino children, it is 12 percent.

“It’s evident that recent state and local investments that support children and families, especially policies and programs that increase family economic success and health care coverage and access, are paying off in improved outcomes for many Minnesota children,” said Bharti Wahi, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota. “However, we cannot be content with a high ranking that masks chronic inequities for children of color in our state.”

North Dakota has the lowest percentage of children in families with a high housing cost burden (17 percent), the second-lowest percentage of children without secure parental employment (22 percent), and the fifth-lowest percentage of children living in poverty (15 percent). However, the poverty rate is the same as 2008.

Other positives for North Dakota are the second-lowest percentage of children living in families where the head of the household lacks a high school diploma (5 percent) and the fifth-lowest percentage of children living in single-parent families.

The percentage of children attending preschool in North Dakota has risen, and a greater percentage of fourth-graders are reading proficiently. Still, more than 60 percent of fourth-graders don’t read proficiently and more than 60 percent of eighth-graders are not proficient in math.

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Health indicators all improved in North Dakota. The state has the second-lowest percentage of low-birthweight babies (6.2 percent) and the fifth-lowest percentage of teens abusing drugs and alcohol (5 percent).

But there are still nearly 12,000 children in North Dakota with no health coverage, KIDS COUNT reports.

In addition, while the child and teen death rate in North Dakota at 24 per 100,000 matches the national average, one in four of those deaths is the result of suicide, with the percentage of students attempting suicide in the state rising from 6 percent in 2009 to 9 percent in 2015.

Nationally, teen birth rates fell 40 percent between 2008 and 2014, the percentage of teens abusing drugs and alcohol fell 38 percent, and the percentage of teens not graduating on time fell 28 percent, KIDS COUNT reported.

KIDS COUNT is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Related Topics: FAMILYEDUCATIONHEALTH
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