Minnesota's children and young people are faring better in many ways than they did just three years ago, according to a new Children's Report Card posted online today by Minnesota Planning. The state agency previously produced Children's Report Cards in 1994, 1996 and 1999.
Minnesota has made notable improvements in reducing child poverty, achieving high education standards and creating caring communities.
- The number of children receiving welfare has dropped significantly.
- Students reporting physical or sexual abuse have decreased.
- The percentage of children whose immunizations are up-to-date by age 2 has risen dramatically since the 1994 Children's Report Card.
- Infant mortality rates have fallen.
- Students report smoking and alcohol use at lower levels.
- Scores have improved on elementary school tests and eighth-grade basic skills tests.
- Minnesota youth are volunteering more.
- Children are fighting less.
- Young people are driving less often under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Youth apprehensions fell significantly in 2001.
Overall, the 2002 Children's Report Card shows positive progress in 18 of the 31 indicators.
The report shows only four negative trends: more school transfers, an increase in child abuse and neglect, more low birth-weight babies and fewer children assessed as normal in preschool screening. However, despite overall improvements, minority children are heavily disadvantaged in their pursuit of health and education goals and have shown much slower progress than white children.
"We should be very encouraged that Minnesota children are becoming healthier, better educated and more committed to their communities," said Dean Barkley, director of Minnesota Planning. "However, it is important that we examine ways to eliminate the disparities that still exist."
Five new indicators were added to the 2002 Children's Report Card: preschool child development, marijuana use, daily intake of fruit and vegetables, how much children feel their parents care about them and the extent to which they feel good about themselves.
Fifth-grade assessments were also added to give a fuller picture of elementary school skills.
The new online 2002 Children's Report Card shows state, county and school district data. As well as giving a detailed analysis for each indicator, its interactive features allow the user to search for data by geographic area, subject or indicator, compare data across regions or the state and create maps showing county comparisons. Updated data will be displayed as it becomes available.