Despite improvements, R.I. ranks No. 26 for child well-being
ALTHOUGH RHODE ISLAND'S health ranking in the 2014 Kids Count Data Book dropped from No. 5 to No. 15, the state improved in three of four key health indicators, including the percentage of children without health insurance, which fell to 5 percent. Above, a chart illustrating the best and worst states for children without health insurance, as well as the states with at or below 5 percent of children without health insurance.
PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island ranks No. 26 in the country and last in New England for overall child well-being, according to the 2014 Kids Count Data Book released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation on Tuesday.
State rankings are based on an index of 16 indicators in four key domains – health, education, economic well-being, and family and community. While Rhode Island improved in 11 of the 16 indicators, the state’s overall ranking at No. 26 was unchanged from the 2013 data book report.
In the four key domains, Rhode Island improved its score for economic well-being (which climbed to No. 26 from No. 31 last year), while its education and health scores dropped. Rhode Island ranked No. 25 in education, down from No. 24 in 2013, and ranked No. 15 in health compared with No. 5 last year.
Rhode Island’s family and community rank remained unchanged at No. 32.
Despite the dramatic drop in Rhode Island’s health ranking, Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count, pointed to improvement in three of four key health indicators, particularly a drop in the percentage of children without health insurance to 5 percent compared with 6 percent in 2013.
“The fact that more children have health insurance demonstrates Rhode Island’s commitment to children’s well-being,” said Bryant. “By covering our most vulnerable children and their families through RIte Care, Rhode Island has continued to make the health and well-being of our future generation a priority.”
Rhode Island’s scores worsened for four of the 16 indicators, including percentage of children in single-parent families, percentage of low-birthweight babies, percentage of high school students not graduating on time and percentage of children whose parents lack secure employment. The percentage of children in poverty was unchanged in 2014 at 19 percent.
Among other key indicators in the 2014 report were:
The percentage of fourth graders in Rhode Island not proficient in reading decreased from 70 percent in 2005 to 62 percent in 2013.
In 2012, 13 percent of Rhode Island children lived in families where the household head lacks a diploma, a decrease from 16 percent in 2005.
Seven percent of teenagers abused alcohol or drugs in 2012, down from 9 percent in 2005.
The top-rated states overall in the 2014 Kids Count Data Book were (in order): Massachusetts (which climbed from the No. 3 spot last year), Vermont, Iowa, New Hampshire and Minnesota.
Rhode Island ranked last in New England, below Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut (No. 7) and Maine (No. 14).
To view the complete 2014 Kids Count Fact Book, visit www.aecf.org.