Summer Meal Programs – Minnesota

Summer Eats app helps Minnesota kids take bite out of hunger, By Shannon Prather, June 28, 2017, Star Tribune: “For kids who rely on free and reduced-price school lunches, summer break can be a hungry time. But there are nearly 700 sites across the state serving free, healthy meals to kids this summer — no reservations required — and a new smartphone app called Summer Eats Minnesota is making it easier for children and teens to find them. One additional perk of the app: It lists the menu at many locales…”

Medicaid and Children’s Dental Care – Minnesota

Feds warn Minnesota: Improve kids’ dental care in Medicaid, By Glenn Howatt, May 1, 2017, Star Tribune: “Minnesota has been warned that its main government health insurance program risks losing federal funding if it doesn’t provide more preventive dental care to children. The problem is familiar to many families on Medical Assistance: Many dentists don’t accept new patients covered by the program because Minnesota pays some of the lowest dental reimbursement rates in the country…”

Driver’s License Suspensions – Minnesota

Unpaid traffic tickets — debt trap for the poor — in MN legislators’ sights, By Bill Salisbury, April 2, 2017, Pioneer Press: “For Carmen Mask, 2009 was a rough year. Mask and her husband divorced, her household income dropped from around $80,000 to $25,000 a year, and she and her three sons moved from their St. Paul house to an apartment. While moving in an old van her ex had left her, a police officer pulled her over and gave her a traffic ticket for driving with a broken tail light. He also told her that her insurance had expired. ‘I was really struggling at that time, and I forgot about the ticket,’ said Mask, 45, an employment counselor who now lives in Minnetonka and works in St. Paul. Soon another cop ticketed her for driving an uninsured vehicle. She couldn’t afford to pay the fine or the insurance, she said, and her driver’s license was suspended. Then a few weeks later, another officer stopped her and handed her a warrant for her arrest…”

County Health Rankings – Minnesota

Report: Child poverty, STDs, premature death on the rise, By Stephanie Dickrell, March 29, 2017, St. Cloud Times: “Child poverty and STDs are on the rise in Central Minnesota, according to a nationwide report released Wednesday. The County Health Rankings looks at health outcomes, health behaviors and access, as well as social, economic and environmental factors. ‘What the rankings show us is that where we live matters to our health,’ said Aliana Havrilla, a community coach for County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. ‘It’s an easy-to-use snapshot.’  The results for Central Minnesota are mixed, although in general, the region is doing better than the state and the country. There are plenty of areas to improve upon including smoking, obesity, excessive drinking and access to exercise opportunities…”

Concentrated Poverty in the Twin Cities

Areas of poverty expanding in St. Paul, Met Council finds, By Frederick Melo, March 7, 2017, Twin Cities Pioneer Press: “After plateauing following the recession, poverty rates have dipped slightly in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area but increased in St. Paul. In St. Paul, areas of concentrated poverty are expanding, especially around the East Side and North End.  Those are some of the findings in a recent Metropolitan Council analysis of data from the decennial U.S. Census and American Community Survey. The survey produces demographic estimates based on survey samples collected over one-year and five-year periods…”

High School Graduation Rates

  • Minnesota high school graduation rates show narrowing achievement gap, By Beena Raghavendran and Beatrice Dupuy, February 24, 2017, Star Tribune: “Graduation rates for black students at Minnesota high schools rose 3 percentage points in 2016, a sign of progress in narrowing the achievement gap between white students and students of color, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Education.  While the black students’ gains were most pronounced, the graduation rate for all students also continued along a slow upward trend. Across Minnesota, 82.2 percent of last year’s senior class graduated within four years — the highest overall rate recorded by the department…”
  • How Boston achieved its record high school graduation rate, By Josh Kenworthy, March 3, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “Dante Omorogbe might sound like any other school kid rattling off his grades: ‘A – for senior math, A- in Algebra …,’ but for the 21-year-old senior, they mean so much more.  Mr. Omorogbe originally was set to graduate in 2014. That was until, after a fight with his dad, he was ‘tossed’ out on the street. Eventually, his grandmother took him in for a while, but with her working during the day, Omorogbe needed to care for his gravely ill grandfather. School eventually became too much, so he dropped it…”

Foster Care Programs – Florida, Minnesota

  • Florida child welfare system under-performing for foster kids, study finds, By Christopher O’Donnell, January 20, 2017, Tampa Bay Times: “A federal agency has given the Florida Department of Children and Families 90 days to come up with a plan to improve its care of foster kids after a study found the state is underperforming in critical areas…”
  • State pledges $400,000 to shrink number of Indian children in foster care, By Brandon Stahl, January 20, 2017, Star Tribune: “With the number of American Indian children in Minnesota foster care reaching ‘unacceptable’ levels, the state pledged Thursday to spend $400,000 over the next three years to reduce those numbers. The announcement comes after a two-part Star Tribune series last summer found that Minnesota has more American Indian children in foster care than any other state, including those with significantly larger Indian populations…”

Star Tribune Series on Poverty

  • Taking risks to pursue the American dream, By Adam Belz, December 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “Ethrophic Burnett escaped the South Side of Chicago, moved to Minneapolis ‘to have a life for my kids’ — and wound up in a social experiment.  In the late 1990s, when the oldest of her children were just in elementary school, her family was one of hundreds that was moved to the Twin Cities suburbs as the result of a federal fair housing lawsuit. Her children thrived, she said. They developed new ambitions that otherwise might have seemed distant.  Then, three years ago, as her oldest daughter entered college, Burnett lost eligibility for the home she was living in and moved the family back to the poorest area of Minneapolis…”
  • Prosperity grows out of small-town America, By Adam Belz, December 29, 2016, Star Tribune: “Sylvia Hilgeman grew up no-frills on a farm in Red Lake County in northwest Minnesota, where flat fields are broken by steel grain bins, stands of aspen and abandoned farmhouses.  Her dad cultivated rented land and her mom raised cattle and milked cows at a neighboring farm to help pay the bills. They raised their children in a double-wide mobile home across a gravel driveway from her great-uncle’s homestead. ‘My parents, they worked harder than anyone I’ve ever met,’ Hilgeman said. The work paid off for their children. Sylvia went to college, got a job in accounting and later joined the FBI. Today, she investigates white collar crime in New York City…”
  • Poor forced to make extreme choices as affordable homes erode, By Adam Belz, December 30, 2016, Star Tribune: “Kendrick Bates fought his way out of poverty to within two semesters of a bachelor’s degree. Now he needs an apartment. He’s been accepted at a college in suburban Roseville, but he hasn’t been able to find a home in a good neighborhood that he can afford. Bates, who now lives near the southern Minnesota town of New Ulm with his two daughters, grew up in poverty in Mississippi and is wary of the trade-offs of urban life. He is looking beyond the metro area and likes Stillwater, Hudson and New Richmond in Wisconsin…”

Affordable Housing – Minneapolis, MN

As Minneapolis gentrifies, some of the last neighborhoods for the poor are now getting squeezed, By Adam Belz, November 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “A light snow fell outside a brown apartment building on Pleasant Avenue, where tenants gathered to protest something that’s become inevitable in Minneapolis: rising rent.  The company that manages seven buildings just south of Lake Street told residents in a letter that their rent will rise by as much as $125 per month, to $775.  For many of the families there, that will be too much, and nearby options are limited. Only a handful of apartments in the area rent for less than $900 per month…”

Student Homelessness – New York, Minnesota

  • Where nearly half of pupils are homeless, school aims to be teacher, therapist, even Santa, By Elizabeth A. Harris, June 6, 2016, New York Times: “There are supposed to be 27 children in Harold Boyd IV’s second-grade classroom, but how many of them will be there on a given day is anyone’s guess.  Since school began in September, five new students have arrived and eight children have left. Two transferred out in November. One who started in January was gone in April. A boy showed up for a single day in March, and then never came back. Even now, in the twilight of the school year, new students are still arriving, one as recently as mid-May…”
  • Amid recovery, many families struggle with homelessness, By Kristi Marohn, June 4, 2016, St. Cloud Times: “In 2004, then-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty set an ambitious goal for the state: End homelessness by 2010.  But 12 years later, despite the bold pronouncement, the problem of homelessness continues to plague the state, including the St. Cloud area.  Despite the economic recovery and lower unemployment, Central Minnesota families are still struggling with incomes that have stayed flat since the Great Recession. Meanwhile, a tight rental market has pushed the cost of housing beyond the reach of many…”
  • Child homelessness can have long-term consequences, By Stephanie Dickrell, June 4, 2016, St. Cloud Times: “There are strong moral reasons to end homelessness and its consequences. But there are economic incentives for society as well. Children who grow up in homelessness may experience long-term effects on behavior, employability, relationships and brain development. As those children grow into adulthood, society ends up paying for the consequences through law enforcement, the criminal justice system and social service programs…”
  • Facing summer on an empty stomach, By Vicki Ikeogu, June 4, 2016, St. Cloud Times: “June 2, 2016. The day area school-aged kids could not wait for.  Yearbook signings. No more homework. Freedom.  The last day of school can bring a whirlwind of emotions for students. But for thousands in the St. Cloud school district, summer vacation can mean anxiety. Worry. Hunger.  Because without the breakfast and lunch provided during the school day, many kids are facing a summer filled with limited access to nutritious and filling meals…”

Section 8 Housing – Minneapolis, MN

Proposal would open more Minneapolis apartments to Section 8 housing vouchers, By Eric Roper, May 11, 2016, Star Tribune: “Landlords can be picky about pets, credit scores and rental history, but Minneapolis officials are looking to bar another common stipulation of apartment listings: ‘No Section 8.’  A proposal by two City Council members would make Minneapolis the first city in the metro area to say landlords cannot turn away tenants solely for paying rent with government housing vouchers. A preliminary meeting with landlords about the idea is slated for Thursday, with a tenant-focused public meeting on Friday.  Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, a co-author of the ordinance, said rejecting applicants who are using vouchers makes unfair generalizations about the program and those who rely on it…”

Homelessness in Minneapolis, MN

Homelessness increases despite decade-long push to end it in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, By Steve Brandt, February 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “A decadelong quest to end homelessness in Minneapolis and Hennepin County has yielded discouraging results: The number of people without homes hasn’t dropped. It has risen. There are 231 more homeless people — living in the streets, in emergency shelters or in transitional housing — in Hennepin County in the final year of the push than when it began in 2007. Last year’s count found 3,125 homeless people in the county, which accounts for two of every five homeless Minnesotans. Homeless counts also are up statewide for the same period, despite an 11 percent drop nationally…”

Kids Count Reports – Minnesota, Kentucky

  • More children of color live in poverty than whites in Minnesota, By Linda Vanderwerf, November 19, 2015, West Central Tribune: “Minnesota was named the top state in the country for child well-being in July, but that lofty ranking doesn’t tell the full story of a state experiencing wide opportunity and achievement gaps for children of color…”
  • Child poverty stubborn in Kentucky, report shows, By Deborah Yetter, November 15, 2015, Louisville Courier-Journal: “At the Plymouth Community Renewal Center, Markham French measures child poverty through the increasing number of young adults seeking aid from the center in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood…”

Habitat for Humanity – Minnesota

Habitat for Humanity dramatically improves families’ lives, study finds, By John Reinan, November 12, 2015, Star Tribune: “The before-and-after picture is dramatic for people who move into a Habitat for Humanity home in Minnesota. Once they move into their new homes, Habitat families make more money and use fewer government social programs. Their kids do better in school. Families feel safer and spend more time together. All in all, 92 percent of Habitat homeowners say their lives are better since they moved into their homes…”

Foster Care System – Minnesota

Child protection reforms strain Minnesota’s foster care system, By Brandon Stahl, November 10, 2015, Star Tribune: “Minnesota’s renewed effort to stop child abuse and neglect is straining the foster care system, a refuge for children removed from their homes. The number of children placed into foster care has risen dramatically in the past year, and a larger share of them are staying in the system longer, state child welfare and court records show. Some foster parents are also complaining that a cut in reimbursements is discouraging them from taking any more children…”

Safety Net Clinics – Twin Cities, MN

Twin Cities safety net clinics call state’s rating system unfair, By Glenn Howatt, September 8, 2015, Star Tribune: “Safety net clinics, which serve the Twin Cities’ neediest neighborhoods, are arguing that Minnesota’s quality rating system unfairly penalizes them for serving a poorer, sicker population. The clinics are known for helping their patients not just with medical care, but with such basic needs as food, ­shelter and personal safety…”

Minimum Wage

  • With buck bump to $9 per hour, Minnesota ushers in top state minimum wage in middle America, By Brian Bakst (AP), July 28, 2015, Star Tribune: “Minnesota will vault past Illinois, Michigan and South Dakota this week to gain the highest minimum wage in the Midwestern region at $9 an hour, which also will rank among the most-generous state wage floors in the country. The dollar-per-hour bump taking effect Saturday for some 288,000 of Minnesota’s lowest-paid workers is the second of a three-stage increase adopted in 2014, when the state had one of the lowest minimum wages in the region. Next August, the wage will rise again to $9.50 and it will go up automatically with inflation in following years…”
  • Proposed raise for fast-food employees divides low-wage workers, By Rachel L. Swarns, July 26, 2015, New York Times: “Rebecca Cornick cheerfully chopped 120 heads of lettuce, wiped tables and rang up some Baconators, fries and chicken club sandwiches. For most of her customers, it was just another afternoon at a Wendy’s restaurant in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Not for Ms. Cornick. She was celebrating. It was Thursday, one day after a state panel recommended that theminimum wage for fast-food workers be raised to $15 an hour, and Ms. Cornick was savoring congratulations from some regulars and the knowledge that soon, very soon, she would have more money to pay her bills…”

Foster Care System – Minnesota

Feds punish state for failing foster care standards, By Brandon Stahl, July 10, 2015, Star Tribune: “More than 200 children have gone through Kate and Tyree Walton’s foster home in Brooklyn Park in the past four years, but for them one child stands out. The girl was 5 in 2012, when the Waltons took her in. Over the next three years, the Waltons watched the girl treated like a yo-yo. Child protection workers sent the girl back to her drug-addicted father, only to pull her from the home and bring her back to the Waltons.  Each time they’ve had her, the girl ‘is more withdrawn,’ Kate Walton said. ‘She’s older, understands what’s going on, and she’s angry.’  What happened to the girl, considered foster care ‘re-entry,’ has happened to more than 8,000 Minnesota children since 2007. That’s too many for the federal Children’s Bureau. Last month, the agency told the state that it was withholding more than $755,000 in child protection funding because Minnesota’s re-entry rates are too high…”

Suburban Poverty – Twin Cities, MN

Poverty nearly doubles in Twin Cities suburbs, By Shannon Prather, June 21, 2015, Star Tribune: “Poor people living in the suburbs of the Twin Cities now significantly outnumber the needy in Minneapolis and St. Paul, an accelerating trend that is presenting many local governments with stark new challenges. Pockets of concentrated poverty have emerged across the metro suburbs, in places such as St. Louis Park, Coon Rapids and Shakopee. Meanwhile, in other suburban communities such as Richfield and Brooklyn Park, poverty that sprang up over the last decade has become a persistent issue. These are the findings of a seminal new Metropolitan Council report that says about 385,000 people live in poverty in the suburbs, compared to about 259,000 in the urban core…”