Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island Kids Count. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News
WPRO News and The Associated Press
A new report on child welfare says more U.S. children are living in poverty than before the Great Recession.
The report, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation child advocacy group, says 22 percent of American children were living in poverty in 2013 compared with 18 percent in 2008.
Poverty rates were nearly double among African-Americans and American Indians, and were most severe in the South and Southwest.
The report said that the overall well-being of children in Rhode Island slipped to 31st in the nation from 26th last year.
“The area where we’re having the most difficulty in terms of these measures is in the area of economic well being,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island Kids Count, the policy organization that works with the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “The area where, once again we are leading the country, is in children’s health.”
“We have 22 percent of Rhode Island children living below the poverty line, and that’s something that worsened between 2008 and 2013.”
Burke Bryant said the state’s renewed focus on bolstering educational attainment for both children and parents may help improve its sluggish economic showings.
“I think now there is a major, major focus on jobs and the economy, and people in Rhode Island know that education is very, very much tied to whether we have both well educated children for our future workforce and educated parents now,” Burke Bryant said.
“When employers are looking to see where to locate, some of these well being of children measures are really important. So, what we’d like to see is a lot of swift progress between this year and next year when this report comes out again,” she said.