Every year, Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota publishes the Minnesota Kids Count Data Book and fact sheets for all 87 Minnesota counties through a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The recently released 2020 Minnesota Kids Count Data Book, entitled “Building Bridges to Economic Stability for Children and Families,” highlights the 2020 federal and state policy changes to the COVID-19 pandemic that address needs that families are facing when tasked with additional child care responsibilities and greater health risks. It also highlights the key role that public benefits play to support economic stability in families, particularly while the state experiences higher unemployment and greater stress on families in this time of the global pandemic, according to a press release from the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota.

Featured throughout the book are Bridge Builders - programs and initiatives that help families achieve economic stability in creative ways by teaching financial literacy, supporting child care affordability, and providing financial support, recognizing that sufficient family resources provide children with a strong foundation for wellbeing to meet their basic needs.

CDF-MN kicked off its 2020-2021 Kids Count Virtual Coffee Tour in November and will host its next Kids Count Coffee event, in partnership with the Otter Tail County Early Childhood Initiative, on Friday, Jan. 8, from 9-11 a.m. Jennifer Bertram, CDF-MN Kids Count Coordinator, will present on the 2020 Kids Count Data Book, and participants will have the opportunity to talk about family economic stability across the state and in Otter Tail, Becker, Wilkin, Wadena, and Grant counties.

“This data is critical in understanding how all children in Minnesota fare and reveals deep-rooted disparities that Black, brown and Indigenous children experience. During this time of pandemic, we know that public investments in children are even more critical to the wellbeing of families, and we recognize the need for data indicators disaggregated by race and ethnicity to inform decision-makers so that resources are directed to children and families experiencing the greatest needs. While some families have the financial flexibility to manage disruptions in school and work, the challenges of distance learning for children and parents’ work disruptions are causing significant financial stress for far too many families in Minnesota, particularly low-wage workers who lack access to paid time off and affordable health care,” said CDF-MN Executive Director Bharti Wahi.

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“Some data available through the Census Bureau Household Pulse Surveys, which have been completed weekly since March, indicate that financial stress related to COVID-19 affects families of color overall more devastatingly than White families, and the lack of economic stability during this time will affect families for years to come. We need a concerted effort to re-balance public investments such as work supports, targeted outreach, culturally relevant programming, and early interventions to counteract decades of inequitable distribution of resources, as well as current economic realities for too many families in our state. This effort must address the challenges facing our children in low-income households, Black, brown and Indigenous children as well as children in rural settings, in order to give all of our children a strong start in life, and improve the state’s overall economic strength to sustain us through setbacks and challenges,” Wahi said.

Minnesota state and county data highlights:

In the 2019-2020 school year, 35.8% of K-12 students in Minnesota were approved for free school meals.

  • In Otter Tail County: 36.8%
  • In Becker County: 40.7%
  • In Wilkin County: 39.1%
  • In Wadena County: 48.4%
  • In Grant County: 35.7%

In 2019, the average annual cost of licensed family-based preschool in Minnesota was $7,500.

  • In Otter Tail County: $6,150
  • In Becker County: $6,850
  • In Wilkin County: $5,900
  • In Wadena County: $6,200
  • In Grant County: $6,450

In the 2019-2020 school year, 16.7% of K-12 public school students in Minnesota were enrolled in special education.

  • In Otter Tail County: 15.9%
  • In Becker County: 20.2%
  • In Wilkin County: 20.3%
  • In Wadena County: 21.8%
  • In Grant County: 16.5%

In 2018, 3.3% of children in Minnesota did not have health insurance.

  • In Otter Tail County: 5.3%
  • In Becker County: 8.8%
  • In Wilkin County: 2.3%
  • In Wadena County: 3.1%
  • In Grant County: 3.2%

In 2019, the child abuse or neglect rate (per 1,000 children) in Minnesota was 5.3.

  • In Otter Tail County: 7.5
  • In Becker County: 9.1
  • In Wilkin County: 11.4
  • In Wadena County: 2.0
  • In Grant County: 25.7

Learn more about the KIDS COUNT Data Book and the dates and locations of other Kids Count Coffee events across the state at cdf-mn.org