By Kimberley Donoghue PBN Web Editor Twitter: @kdonog
PROVIDENCE – In Rhode Island, 30,000 children – 14 percent – had at least one parent who was unemployed during 2010. Only Nevada, 16 percent, and the District of Columbia, 15 percent, had higher rates.
The statistic was released in the national Kids Count Data Book on Wednesday, issued by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Rhode Island ranked 17th-best in the nation for overall child well-being based on 10 indicators ranging from family economic security, child and teen development, health and education.
“When a family faces serious financial challenges, children can experience physical and emotional health problems, increased school mobility and increased school absenteeism – compromising health and educational achievement,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count.
Rhode Island mirrored the national rate – 4 percent - of children living in families that experienced foreclosure in 2007, 2008 or 2009.
“[More than] one-third of Rhode Island’s foreclosures are multifamily homes that house an average of two to three families, so the number of children coping with foreclosure is likely higher than 17,000, since renters are often evicted when a rental property is foreclosed,” said Stephanie Geller, policy analyst at Rhode Island Kids Count.
Other indicators of Rhode Island child well-being included in the data book were:
Rhode Island now ranks among the top 10 best states for the teen birth rate, with a 15 percent reduction in births to teens between 2000 and 2008.
Rhode Island ranks best in the country for the child death rate among children aged 1 to 14, and second best in the nation for the teen death rate.
Nevertheless, family economic well-being indicators moved in the wrong direction, Kids Count said, as evidenced by the child poverty rate and the percentage of children in families without full-time, year-round employment.
The percentage of Rhode Island children living in poverty increased from 15 percent in 2008 to 17 percent in 2009, but continued to be lower than the national rate of 20 percent.
In Rhode Island, 31 percent of children were living in families in which no parent had full-time, year-round employment in 2009 – the same as the national rate.
The organization also noted declines in the health of Rhode Island newborns, with increases in low birth weight and infant mortality rates.