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Report says Beltrami County kids face economic challenges

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI -- Nearly 30 percent of children in Beltrami County live in poverty according to the 2012 Kids Count, well above the state average of 15 percent, increasing awareness for children in the area.

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"First we believe that a family is a child's first chance and best chance so we need to strengthen families, we need to support families but also we have to be cherishing parents as well," Legislative Affairs and Advocacy Director Alexandra Fitzsimmons said.

The 2012 Kid Count focused on children in greater Minnesota, looking at the child poverty levels and the relationship between affordability and accessibility.

"No matter where families come from they all pretty much want the same things for their children," Children's Defense Fund research director Kara Arzamendia said. "They want to create an environment of economic stability; they want to keep them safe, well fed, healthy and prepared for future learning and success."

Arzamendia said rural areas like the outer edge of Beltrami County cause families to have to deal with isolation and have less accessibility to things like healthcare. She said it is the combination of poverty and living location that impact a variety of issues.

According to the Kids Count data, 45 percent come from outside of the metropolitan area.

Beltrami County is well above the state average for economic well being categories including:

E 29 percent of children 0-17 living in poverty (state average is 15 percent).

E 58.9 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunches (37.3 percent is the state average.)

Part of the impact on these trends is Beltrami County's median household income is $40,308, nearly $15,000 less than the state average.

Fitzsimmons said the state legislature passed new laws to help deal with the poverty and specifically homeless children. The Children's Defense Fund pushed legislation that focuses on improving the well-being of the state's children.

In this legislation a Minnesota Visible Child Work Group was created to build a framework to ensure well-being while addressing concern of abused and neglected children.

Fitzsimmons said one thing she will continue to push for changes to the Minnesota Family Investment Program, which helps low-income families with children with food and money assistance. One of the changes proposed is to provide families with information for early child care assistance.

"We know the goal of early child advocacy is to share with our elected leaders how important these early years are for our children," Fitzsimmons said.

BEMIDJI -- Nearly 30 percent of children in Beltrami County live in poverty according to the 2012 Kids Count, well above the state average of 15 percent, increasing awareness for children in the area.

"First we believe that a family is a child's first chance and best chance so we need to strengthen families, we need to support families but also we have to be cherishing parents as well," Legislative Affairs and Advocacy Director Alexandra Fitzsimmons said.

The 2012 Kid Count focused on children in greater Minnesota, looking at the child poverty levels and the relationship between affordability and accessibility.

"No matter where families come from they all pretty much want the same things for their children," Children's Defense Fund research director Kara Arzamendia said. "They want to create an environment of economic stability; they want to keep them safe, well fed, healthy and prepared for future learning and success."

Arzamendia said rural areas like the outer edge of Beltrami County cause families to have to deal with isolation and have less accessibility to things like healthcare. She said it is the combination of poverty and living location that impact a variety of issues.

According to the Kids Count data, 45 percent come from outside of the metropolitan area.

Beltrami County is well above the state average for economic well being categories including:

- 29 percent of children 0-17 living in poverty (state average is 15 percent).

- 58.9 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunches (37.3 percent is the state average.)

Part of the impact on these trends is Beltrami County's median household income is $40,308, nearly $15,000 less than the state average.

Fitzsimmons said the state legislature passed new laws to help deal with the poverty and specifically homeless children. The Children's Defense Fund pushed legislation that focuses on improving the well-being of the state's children.

In this legislation a Minnesota Visible Child Work Group was created to build a framework to ensure well-being while addressing concern of abused and neglected children.

Fitzsimmons said one thing she will continue to push for changes to the Minnesota Family Investment Program, which helps low-income families with children with food and money assistance. One of the changes proposed is to provide families with information for early child care assistance.

"We know the goal of early child advocacy is to share with our elected leaders how important these early years are for our children," Fitzsimmons said.

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