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Group fights to end child poverty

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On Wednesday, Oct. 26, the Congregational United Church of Christ in Detroit Lakes will be opening its doors for a presentation by the Interfaith Children's Advocacy Network (ICAN) on child poverty.

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This presentation, which starts at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public, according to Congregational Church pastor Rev. Mark Kuether.

"It's an introductory opportunity for ICAN to come into Detroit Lakes and talk about the work they do," said Kuether.

The ICAN organization is an offshoot of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) that is focused specifically on child advocacy, Kuether explained.

Its literature states that "ICAN organizes people of faith in Minnesota to advance socially just legislation in the areas of children's health care, child care and early education, and a healthy home environment."

There is well-documented research on the detrimental effect that poverty can have on a child's early development, ICAN says.

According to data released by the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota and the American Community Survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010, poverty in Minnesota is on the rise.

In 2000, nine percent of Minnesota's children -- a total of 114,000 -- lived in poverty; by 2010, that number had soared to 15.2 percent, or 192,000, the survey stated.

For children under 5 years of age, the numbers are even worse; an astounding 17.2 percent are living in poverty, the survey said.

A whopping 81,400 of Minnesota's children live in home conditions described as "deep poverty," the survey data says.

Poverty, for purposes of the Census Bureau survey, refers to a family of four living on an annual income of $22,350 or less. Deep poverty refers to an annual income of $11,175 or less for a family of four.

What ICAN is attempting to do is to raise awareness of the effects of poverty on child development, as well as what is being done to help reach its goal of ending poverty in Minnesota by 2020.

Those who would like to learn more are welcome to attend the Oct. 26 presentation at the Congregational United Church of Christ, located at 900 Lake Åve. in Detroit Lakes.

"This is an opportunity to learn more about how we can work together to make the present for our children a little more livable, and their future a little brighter," Kuether said.

Some of the recent legislative funding cuts approved by a cash-strapped Minnesota Legislature have had a direct impact on children and families, Kuether added.

Cuts in funding for the Becker County Food Pantry and Mahube Community Council are just a few examples.

"What happens in St. Paul impacts all of us, and especially our children," Kuether said. "These cuts are personal."

For more information on the Oct. 26 presentation in Detroit Lakes, please contact Rev. Kuether at 218-847-4609, of send an e-mail to dlcongo@msn.com.

For more information about ICAN and its legislative goals, visit www.icanmn.org.

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