Report: R.I. ranks No. 19 in nation
for child well-being

RHODE ISLAND RANKED No. 19 in the nation for child well-being in the 2019 Kids Count data book. / COURTESY KIDS COUNT
RHODE ISLAND RANKED No. 19 in the nation for child well-being in the 2019 Kids Count data book. / COURTESY KIDS COUNT

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island ranked No. 19 in the nation in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2019 Kids Count report measuring children’s well-being, released Tuesday.

The report considered economic well-being of children, education, health, and family and community of each state.

New Hampshire ranked No. 1 in overall child well-being in the 2019 report, followed by Massachusetts and Iowa.

Rhode Island ranked last in New England, followed by Maine at No. 9, Connecticut at No. 8, Vermont at No. 6, Massachusetts at No. 2 and New Hampshire at No. 1.

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Rhode Island earned its highest ranking for children’s health, ranking No. 4 in the United States. The Ocean State improved all four of the children’s health measured metrics in the study, including low birth-weight babies, children without health insurance, child and teen deaths, and teens who abuse alcohol or drugs.

2017 Rhode Island children health stats:

  • Low birth-weight babies: 7.5%, compared with 8.3% nationwide.
  • Children without health insurance: 2%, compared with 5% in the U.S.
  • Child and teen deaths per 100,000: 16, compared with 26 per 100,000 nationwide.
  • Teens who abuse alcohol or drugs from 2016-17: 5%, compared with 4% nationally.

Rhode Island ranked No. 26 for both economic well-being and for family and community in the report. In the family and community ranking, the state improved three of four metrics from 2010 to 2017, and remained level on another (children living in high-poverty areas, at 13%), which was measured from 2008-12 to 2013-17.

2017 Rhode Island family and community stats:

  • Children in single-parent families: 35%, compared with 34% nationally.
  • Children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma: 11%, compared with 13% in the U.S.
  • Children living in high-poverty areas from 2013-17: 13%, compared with 12% nationwide.
  • Teen births per 1,000: 11, compared with 19 teen births per 1,000 in the U.S.

Rhode Island also improved in three of four metrics in the economic well-being category from 2010 to 2017, worsening in percentage of teens not in school and not working, which increased from 5% to 6%.

2017 Rhode Island economic well-being of children stats:

  • Children in poverty: 17%, compared with 18% in the nation.
  • Children whose parents lack secure employment: 26%, compared with 27% nationally.
  • Children living in households with a high housing cost burden: 33%, compared with 31% nationally.
  • Teens not in school and not working: 6%, compared with 7% in the U.S.

The Ocean State earned its worst ranking overall for education, ranking No. 28 in the nation. The state improved in three of four metrics, only worsening in share of young children not in school (up 1 percentage point to 53% from 2009-11 to 2015-17).

2017 Rhode Island education stats:

  • Young children (ages 3-4) not in school from 2015-17: 53%, compared with 52% in the U.S.
  • Fourth grade students not proficient in reading: 61%, compared with 65% in the U.S.
  • Eighth-grade students not proficient in math: 70%, compared with 67% in the U.S.
  • High school students not graduating on time from 2016-17: 16%, compared with 15% in the U.S.

“America’s children are one-quarter of our population and 100% of our future,” said Casey Foundation President and CEO Lisa Hamilton in a statement accompanying the report. “All of the 74 million kids in our increasingly diverse country have unlimited potential, and we have the data, knowledge and evidence to create the policies that will help them realize it. It’s incumbent on us to do just that.”

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor. You may reach him at Bergenheim@PBN.com.