Measuring progress. Inspiring action.

Risk and Reach


Economy, health, and family stability all play key roles in a child’s healthy development.

The Risk and Reach project is the first attempt in Minnesota to describe indicators of early childhood development county by county. It reviews 12 risk measures in areas related to economy, health, and family stability. The project also identifies the reach in each county of eight publicly-funded programs serving the early learning, health, and basic needs of young children. Learn more about the project.

Identifying risk and reach

Every county is assigned to one of four risk categories for each risk measure (low, low-to-moderate, moderate-to-high, or high), and is given a composite risk score based on an average score across all measures. Every county also is assigned a reach category (low, low-to-moderate, moderate-to-high, high) for each program based on the proportion of children receiving that service. The reach of services is overlayed on a map of Minnesota showing each county’s composite risk score, allowing comparison of the need for services with their availability. Learn more about methodology.

Key findings

No single risk factor determines a child's developmental trajectory. Rather, cumulative risk has been found to be the most predictive of adverse outcomes in childhood and across the lifespan. There is no threshold at which intervention is futile. The study found:

  • Nearly 200,000 children in Minnesota live in moderate-to-high or high-risk counties, representing 46 percent of all children under age 6 in Minnesota.
  • The reach of publicly funded early childhood programs in Minnesota varies by county and ranges from about 4 percent to about 70 percent of eligible children.
  • About 68,000 children live in 15 high-risk counties, including Ramsey County. Eight of the 15 counties (including Ramsey County) are at high risk for children living in poverty, and six of them have high proportions of American Indian children.

More key findings

See how your county of interest is faring

map of Minnesota with county boundaries visible

View risk measures and the reach of services for a specific county. Browse all counties or select below.



We sat down with Risk and Reach project directors Elizabeth Carlson, director of the University of Minnesota Harris Training Program, and Richard Chase, senior research manager at Wilder Research, to learn a little more about how this information can help guide service providers, government staff, legislators, and others.

Sponsored By

Minnesota Early Childhood Risk and Reach was developed by the University of Minnesota (Harris Training Programs in the Center for Early Education and Development) and Wilder Research in partnership with the Minnesota Departments of Education, Health, and Human Services.


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