The Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota releases data examining the health, economic and environmental well being of children and families, with this year's report takes a closer look at children of color.

Minnesota 2015 Kids Count Data Book is taking an in–depth look at the well being of children in the state.

Mankato United Way Director of Community Impact Elizabeth Harstad says, "Outlines information including economic well being, health and safety, early childhood education. And they actually break it down by county."

The data helps The Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota and policy makers find areas to affect change.

This year's book takes a specific focus of the disparities seen among minority populations.

Children's Defense Fund Research and Policy Director Stephanie Hogenson says, "In Minnesota, 30 percent of school children are children of color or American Indian children and that population is growing rapidly."

It is an area where they see improvement opportunities with a higher portion of minority children living below the poverty line than their white counterparts.

An investment that pays off when started earlier.

Hogenson says, "We hope that policy makers can understand that investments early in life pay off long term.”

The data also breaks down each developmental stage of a child's life to look at gaps among different races and ethnicities.

Hogenson says, "Each stage there is a lot of programs and policies that can support children and families and really it is kind of the building blocks."

Data that informs regional organizations like the United Way to put all the building blocks together to prepare for the future.

Harstad says, "We use that information to increase programing, develop news programing or make sure that as a community that we are addressing the needs."

The Children's Defense Fund will be in Mankato tomorrow as part of a tour releasing the data.

The event starts at 10:30 a.m. at Shared Spaces, 127 S. Second Street Mankato, MN

For a downloadable copy of the Data Book, visit 

--KEYC News 12