The 1996 Children's Services Report Card, released today by Minnesota Planning, measures Minnesota's progress for children. Citizens can study 21 county-level indicators in a summary report or online from Minnesota Planning's World Wide Web site.
"Children are the centerpiece of the future," said Governor Arne H. Carlson, whose long-range planning effort, Minnesota Milestones, prompted the report card. "We as a society must wrap our arms around our children, protect them from harm and give each one the chance to succeed," said Governor Carlson. According to the report card, eight of the 21 indicators showed a positive trend. Eight were negative, three showed mixed results, one indicator had no change and data was unavailable for another.
Minnesota has successfully reduced the rate of children who:are neglected
are physically abused or see abuse
are sexually abused
are exposed to alcohol abuse in their family
are sexually active
are involved in fighting
On the downside, more students report smoking on a weekly basis and driving after drinking or using other intoxicants. More children are being born to women younger than age 18, more are being placed out of their homes, more 12th-graders are dropping out of high school, more kids are running away and more are being apprehended by law enforcement.
To improve opportunities for Minnesota's children, Governor Carlson has increased funding for HeadStart and early intervention programs, and made educational reform a priority of his administration. In addition, Governor Carlson said reforms in health car e and welfare have strengthened families and given Minnesota's children more opportunities for success.
The summary report includes a composite ranking for each county. The counties with the top rankings, or those that provide the best results for children, are clustered in west-central Minnesota. Those counties at the bottom of the ranking are in north-cen tral Minnesota.
"The report card is a way to keep the public informed about the well-being of Minnesota's children," said Linda Kohl, director of Minnesota Planning. "It's an early warning system. The Children's Services Report Card is intended to signal a call to action in time to make a difference."
Complete county report cards are available online. Citizens, service providers, elected officials and others can compare their county with other counties or the state for each of the 21 indicators.