Minnesota has slipped three rungs in a high-profile ranking of child-friendly states, largely because of its growing number of uninsured children.
The 2012 Kids Count data book, released Wednesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, still ranks Minnesota as fifth-best for children, based on 16 measures of education, the economy, family demographics and health care. But this is the first time in 10 years that the state has ranked lower than No. 3.
"We're seeing some improvements in health and education, but we're really struggling if you look at [the] economic indicators," said Kara Arzamendia, research director for the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota.
The increase in the share of children without health insurance in Minnesota -- from 6 percent in 2008 to 7 percent in 2010 -- occurred at a time when every other state saw a decrease, the data book said.
Other states used federal waivers, created during the last economic recession, to expedite the enrollment of children into publicly funded health plans, Arzamendia said. Minnesota legislators in 2008 and 2009 took similar steps to add more low-income children to the state's MinnesotaCare plan, but those changes didn't take effect until this month.
Many indicators in the new Kids Count book reflect the effect of the 2008-09 recession. The nation saw more children living in poverty or living with parents who had unstable jobs or unaffordable housing. Teens who were out of work and out of school increased as well.
At the same time, Minnesota saw progress in other areas, including lower rates of teen deaths, teen births and teen drug abuse.