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Olmsted County leaders discuss challenges facing today’s children

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) - How well are Minnesota's children and families doing?

Those seeking an answer to that come up with a report each year to get a better handle on the factors involved. Those most recent findings are available in the Children's Defense Fund's Kids Count data book.

While Minnesota boasts a ranking of 4th in the country for children's well-being, disparities among different races still exist.

"If we drill down into the data, we see that there are children of color who don't have the same advantages as our white children," said Kids Count coordinator Jennifer Bertram.

Part of dealing with those disparities involves helping lower income families.

"That leaves more money for people to be able to buy new shoes, nutritious food and all of the other things children need to grow healthy and have a positive development," said Bertram.

Another way students are being left behind involves simply not being counted at all in a census.

"We don't receive the funding from the federal government," Bertram said. "State funding does not flow through to the communities because those children are not recognized."

With a more accurate count, decision makers can better allocate funding to help tackle the problem children face today and provide new opportunities.

"Early childcare because if we can get kids what they need early on, it's going to affect everything else," said Jean Mavrin of the Rochester Board of Education.

"The work that we're doing on our huge under supply of affordable housing is really a critical factor," said Olmsted County commissioner Sheila Kiscaden.

School districts are also realizing they can be a central hub for families to receive resources they need.

"It's not just academic teaching anymore. It's embracing the whole child," Mavrin said. "We get it now that when kids show up with challenges, somebody has to take care of those challenges. It's not the kid's fault."

The full data from the Kids Count report for this year can be seen here.

Alex Tejada

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