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Walz administration uses report to highlight work on children’s issues

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Gov. Tim Walz says a new report out Wednesday on the well-being of children shows that Minnesota still has some areas that need work.

The 2019 Kids Count Data Book, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranks Minnesota high nationally in several categories, including fourth for overall child well-being. Minnesota was third in economic well-being, 10th in education and sixth in health.

But a Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota analysis shows troubling disparities when the numbers are broken down by race and income.

“When we disaggregate the data by race and ethnicity, we find our state has some of the most pronounced disparities in outcomes for the children,” said Bharti Wahi, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota. “In order to build a strong state and build for a strong future, we must address these disparities as our state continues to grow in racial and ethnic diversity.”

At a meeting in Brooklyn Center, Walz told the group that the children’s cabinet he formed earlier this year is tackling the disparity issues.

“There is an absolute, unwavering desire of the partners in this room and this administration that this will be the state that is the best place in the country for a child to safely, healthy and happily grow up in,” Walz said.

Walz said the data in the report will help drive decision-making at the State Capitol.

Peggy Flanagan speaks
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan speaks at a Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota meeting on the release of a new report on children's well-being.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan stressed the importance of participation in the 2020 census. 

Flanagan, who was once executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, said many of the groups with the greatest need of resources have been historically undercounted.

“It’s critical that we get it right in the next census,” Flanagan said.