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Number of Minnesota children living in poverty increases

Three area counties rank among the highest in the state for numbers of children in poverty, according to Kids Count — a report by a charitable foundation using the latest Census data.

Aitkin, Wadena and Cass counties were among eight counties with the highest percentage of children in poverty ranging from 21.1 percent to 35 percent.

The Kids Count Data Snapshot, using 2010 Census data, was recently released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The number of Minnesota children living in high-poverty neighborhoods almost doubled in the last decade from 35,000 to 68,000, rising from 3 percent to 5 percent — a 94 percent increase, the foundation reported.

“The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show that about 7.9 million, or 11 percent, of the nation’s children are growing up in areas where at least 30 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level — about $22,000 per year for a family of four,” the foundation reported.

Area counties child poverty rates:

• Aitkin County — 23.9 percent, 657 children.

• Crow Wing County — 18.4 percent, 2,565 children.

• Cass County — 24 percent, 1,460 children.

• Mille Lacs County — 18 percent, 1,141 children.

• Morrison County — 15.9 percent, 1,269 children.

• Todd County — 21 percent, 1,216 children.

• Wadena County — 23.2 percent, 722 children.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation focuses on children and family issues.

“Of the 50 largest cities, Minneapolis ranked 44 out of 50 for having some of the highest rates of children (36 percent) living in high-poverty neighborhoods,” the foundation reported. “At the county level, 12 Minnesota counties had high-poverty neighborhoods. Only two of the 12 were located in the seven-county metro area.”

The county with the lowest percentage of child poverty was Carver County with 5.5 percent.

Beltrami County had the highest rate of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods followed by Blue Earth and Ramsey counties.

“As neighborhood poverty increases above 20 percent, undesirable affects start to appear for children living in those neighborhoods,” the foundation reported. “Families are more likely to struggle with meeting basic needs and children are at higher risk for poor outcomes.”

“Kids in these high-poverty areas are at risk for health and developmental challenges in almost every aspect of their lives, from education to their chances for economic success as adults,” said Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and data at the Casey Foundation, in a news release. “Transforming disadvantaged communities into better places to raise children is vital to ensuring the next generation and their families realize their potential.”

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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