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9 important facts to know about RI kids for 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - From child abuse reports (growing) to lead poisoning (declining), the state's leading childhood advocacy group is slated to release a slew of new statistics about Rhode Island's kids Monday.

You can read the full Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook here, but here's an overview of some of the key figures.

Rhode Island has the lowest percentage of teens not in school and not working in the U.S.
Let’s kick if off with some good news. Only 3% of Rhode Island teenagers are not enrolled in school, not in the military and not working, compared to 7% throughout the country. That matters because when teens aren’t in school or working, they’re more likely to experience negative outcomes as they transition into adulthood. Kids Count suggests one of the reasons so many teens remain on track in Rhode Island is the states's compulsory attendance law for students up to age 18. More than half the states have lower age rules.

Child abuse cases are on the rise.
The number of unduplicated child maltreatment reports to the R.I. Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) grew from 12,204 cases in 2008 to 15,945 cases in 2017, according to the report. More than one-third of the reports in 2017 – 36% – led to a finding where there was a preponderance of evidence that a child has been abused or neglected. Even in cases where an investigation isn’t launched, DCYF has reinstated a practice where workers conduct a second review within 24 hours of the initial determination.

Rhode Island has made big gains in children with health insurance.
New England states have always led the way on this, but Rhode Island now has just 1.9% of children under the age of 19 without health insurance, compared to 4.5% in the country. That means the state ranks third-best in country.

The cost of rent spiked in 2017.
After the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Rhode Island remained relatively stable between 2008 and 2016, it jumped nearly $100 to $1,385 a month last year. Experts say a cost burden exists when more than 30% of a family’s month income is spent on housing. In Rhode Island, the average worker would need to earn $26.63 an hour and work 40 hours a week to afford the average rent. It's part of a larger housing crunch affecting Rhode Island families recently.

More high school students consider themselves obese.
The percentage of high school students self-reporting that they’re obese grew from 11% in 2007 to 15% in 2017. For minority students the numbers are even higher, with 21% of Hispanic students and 18% of black students saying they believe they are obese. The percentage of students who say they are overweight has remained flat at 16%.

Rhode Island has the highest percentage of single-parent families in New England.
The percentage of single-parent families in Rhode Island grew from 35% in 2006 to 38% in 2016, placing the state at No. 38 in the country and last in New England. Single-parent families are far more likely to be below the federal poverty threshold than married-couple families, as the chart below shows.

In urban communities, a lot of children are born to moms without a high school diploma.
While the statewide percentage of children born to mothers without a high school diploma between 2012 and 2016 was 12%, the percentage in the state’s four core cities – Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket – is 21%. In Central Falls, 35% of children born in those years had moms without a diploma or their GED.

Nearly one in three children have no parent working full-time all year.
Rhode Island is heading in the right direction in this statistic, but not at the same pace as the country as a whole. In 2016, 31% of children lived in families that had no parent working full-time all year, which ranks as the worst in New England. That’s down from 2010 when 34% of families had no parents working full time, but the national percentage fell from 33% in 2010 to 28% in 2016. As you might expect, this is far more prevalent in single-parent families.

Childhood lead poisoning has fallen 60 percentage points in the inner cities.
This chart speaks for itself.

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Dan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

 


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