R.I. KIDS COUNT Factbook warns of low birth rates

ELIZABETH BURKE Bryant is executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count. / COURTESY RHODE ISLAND KIDS COUNT,/PETER GOLDBERG PHOTOGRAPHY
ELIZABETH BURKE Bryant is executive director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. / COURTESY RHODE ISLAND KIDS COUNT,/PETER GOLDBERG PHOTOGRAPHY

PROVIDENCE – There has been a 15 percent decline in Rhode Island’s child population from 2000 to 2015, according to the latest Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook released Monday.

However, the number of households with children under age 18 in Rhode Island, 29 percent between 2011 and 2015, remained the same from the previous five-year period.

In its 23rd edition, the report details the well-being of Rhode Island’s statewide child population through increases and decreases measured in five categories: family and community, economic well-being, health, safety and education.

Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT executive director, said in prepared remarks: “Healthy, well-educated children and strong families are the bedrock of Rhode Island’s well-being. We can’t succeed economically without smart investments in our children and families.”

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The 2017 book also found the number of babies born in Rhode Island to Rhode Island women similarly declined 15 percent between 2007 and 2016, from 12,010 to 10,212 births.

This is the fifth lowest birthrate in the U.S. for 2015.

Yet, 941 additional paid family leave claims, requests by working adults to bond with a new baby or care for a seriously ill family member, were approved in 2016 than in 2015 through Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program. This is an increase of 2,012 approved claims from 2014 when TCI was first launched.

Additionally, in 2015, the number of babies born in Rhode Island with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, exposure to opioids, continued to rise. That year 114 babies were diagnosed with NAS for a rate of 103.8 diagnoses per 10,000 births – an increase from 97 babies diagnosed in 2014.

White mothers, 84 percent of whom had Medicaid coverage, gave birth to 87 percent of the babies born with NAS between 2011 and 2015.

The book will be presented at a policy breakfast on Monday. Gov. Gina M. Raimondo and other community leaders are expected to attend.