Disparities, Mental Health Cloud MN Child Well-Being Summary
Friday, August 12, 2022
Minnesota once again gets a high ranking among states for child well-being, but an annual report says the state's disparities remain a challenge, with marginalized families seeing lasting impacts from the pandemic.
This year's Annie E Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Book focuses on concerning mental health trends that have surfaced around the country. Nine percent of high schoolers overall reported attempting suicide in the most recent data year, along with 12% of Black students.
Deb Fitzpatrick, director of policy and research for Children's Defense Fund Minnesota, said these disparities are being seen within the state.
"This isn't just going to solve itself because the pandemic is in the rearview mirror for many people," she said. "We know that we had some challenges before the pandemic, and we're going to continue to see those going forward."
Fitzpatrick said issues such as economic stability and mental health go hand-in-hand, and in families that lost income during the pandemic, the children are likely to experience added stress. Overall, Minnesota ranked third in the report, and landed in the top ten for such categories as economic well-being, education and health.
State leaders did make some mental-health investments in the recent legislative session. But advocates have said more can be done to help kids, with a large surplus still available. The Casey Foundation's vice president for external affairs, Leslie Boissiere, added that federal policymakers could help by looking at past successes.
"The expansion of the Child Tax Credit lifted millions of children out of poverty," she said. "When policymakers enact policies that we know lift families out of poverty, then children do well."
The temporary expansion of the credit, which included monthly payments, expired at the start of the year. There have been calls to make it permanent, but partisan gridlock in Congress has prevented that from happening.
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