R.I. Kids Count: One-third of children in families where no parent works fulltime

By Linda Borg
Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island’s families continue to suffer from the 2008 recession, with one out of five children living in poverty, the highest rate in New England, according to a national study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The annual Kids Count data book, a state-by-state report on children’s well-being, finds that Rhode Island ranks 27th in the nation for overall child well- being. The state ranked last in New England, below Massachusetts, at number 2 and Maine, at number 17. The report uses mostly 2014 data.

Rhode Island children lag behind their New England peers on several economic indicators, including children living in poverty, children in households with high housing costs and children whose parents lack fulltime jobs.
Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count, said there are two areas holding Rhode Island back: economic well-being and education. Rhode Island is a leader in children’s health, where it ranks sixth in the nation.

But the state is still recovering from the recession, with nearly one-third of all children _ 67,000 _ living in families where no parent has a fulltime job. Forty-two percent of children _ 90,000 _ live in households where families pay more than one-third of their income on housing.

“We have serious work to do in comparison to our New England neighbors, some of whom have similar demographics to Rhode Island,” Burke Bryant said Thursday. “We have families on waiting lists for job training. We need to attend to this if we want to see the percentage of children living in poverty decrease.”

“I do think we have been hit harder and suffered longer from the recession,” said Rachel Flum, executive director of the Economic Progress Institute of Rhode Island.