COVID-19 highlights disparities among Minnesota children

Sat 11-21-2020

The fallout from the pandemic appears to be exacerbating disparities that were already evident among Minnesota children, according to a new report that examines how kids across the region are faring. The Children's Defense Fund's Minnesota office has issued its annual KIDS COUNT Data Book. Local coordinator Jennifer Bertram says the state has a strong reputation for producing positive outcomes for children. But racial disparities continue to surface. The most recent data, from 2018, show more than 33-percent of Black children in Minnesota living in poverty, compared to just 6-percent of white children. Bertram says there are concerns those gaps have grown in this tumultuous year...MNC Nov 21 cut 1 

  "Especially after some of the events following the murder of George Floyd, we really need to do some analysis of how we are providing the best set of circumstances for all of our children in Minnesota, and how we could do much better."

In a post COVID finding, the report says among households with kids, a majority of stimulus money from the CARES Act was spent on basic needs. That metric wasn't broken down by race, but C-D-F officials say it stands to reason that children of color might be hurting more, because their families have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

The 2020 KIDS COUNT report highlights "Bridge Builders" – programs and initiatives that offer ways to help struggling families reach economic stability. C-D-F Executive Director Barti Wahi says despite a divided Legislature, Minnesota is capable of finding creative solutions to better the lives of children. She says that was on display at the start of the pandemic...MNC Nov 21 cut 2 

  "Even in the last six months, with some of the stimulus work, and particularly in some of the areas around early childhood, we got some strong bipartisan support for some of the supplemental payments that went to childcare providers."

The report says tools such as tax credits can help low-income families stay above the "break-even" point. The annual findings include census data, and this year's summary contains some of the bureau's pulse-survey data that's being collected as families try to weather the current crisis.


**Story courtesy of Minnesota News Connection**