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'Kids Count - North Dakota' will change next year

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The Annie E. Casey Foundation has decided to close the “Kids Count – North Dakota” center by the end of the year.

That’s due to a change in direction.

The Kids Count program for North Dakota was housed at NDSU in Fargo. It has been providing data on children and families in the state.

"Historically, the Casey Foundation's objective has been policy change through reliable data," said Kids Count North Dakota director Karen Olson. "From that perspective, we have a great capacity as a social science research center at a university."

Olson said the Casey Foundation has decided to take more of an advocacy role.

"And so, within a university setting, we're more limited in our capacity to fill that advocacy mission," Olson said.

Olson said the plan is to combine North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana into a regional center, to be located in Helena, MT.

"Beginning in January, our successor will be the Budget and Policy Center in Helena," Olson said. "It will be more of an Upper Midwest Kids Count program, with advocacy arms in all three states."

Olson said the Montana center is a non-profit. And she said she's been assured there will still be a need for data from North Dakota.

Olson will continue with NDSU.