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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Patience urged as MN policies evolve to improve outcomes for kids

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024   

Despite a handful of concerning results for child well-being in Minnesota, one policy expert says the state is well positioned to make structural improvements to shore up its overall high ranking.

This week's new Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation places Minnesota fifth in the nation for child well-being. But issues in education, such as low test scores, stood out, both at the state and national level.

Deb Fitzpatrick, director of policy and research with Children's Defense Fund, said investments by last year's Legislature, such as universal lunches and new funding for early education, haven't shown up yet in these metrics.

"And I would expect that those numbers are going to start to reflect those huge investments and that incredible focus on making Minnesota the best place to be a kid, " she explained.

Fitzpatrick acknowledged some districts still face major budget constraints, despite the big boosts in state aid. But she noted in this year's session, lawmakers did follow up with additional support to help implement strategies from 2023, including one that requires "evidence-based" reading instruction to boost literacy scores.

Some housing-related policies failed to advance this year, after big investments from last year. Like education, Fitzpatrick hopes the 2023 moves will prove to be helpful for families with children who lack housing stability.

"We know when kids have to move a lot - you know, when you're a renter, often you end up in a situation where you have to move a lot - and we know every time those moves happen, it can set kids back as well," she continued.

A new statewide rental voucher program and increased support for first-time home buyers are among the things Children's Defense Fund is monitoring. Fitzpatrick suggested all these wraparound issues tie together in giving kids who are falling behind a level playing field as their futures take shape.

Disclosure: Children's Defense Fund- Minnesota Chapter contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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