New data on childhood poverty in RI
More than one in five Rhode Island children lived in poverty in 2011, according to newly released U. S. Census Bureau data that has been analyzed by Rhode Island KidsCount.
On Block Island, poverty rates are lower, although it is still a problem. Figures aren’t available yet for 2011, but in 2010, just under 12 percent of New Shoreham children lived under the federal poverty level, up from 10 percent in 2000.
The data come from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) and detail the extent of poverty among children in Rhode Island, New England and each of the 50 states.
The KidsCount study found that Rhode Island’s childhood poverty rate has been steadily rising since the recession, increasing from 15.5 percent to 21.9 percent. The number of Rhode Island children in poverty increased from 34,816 in 2008 to 47,127 in 2011.
The child poverty rate for the United States was 22.5 percent in 2011, up from 18.2 percent in 2008.
“Children most at risk of not achieving their full potential are children in poverty,” stated Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island KidsCount. “They are more likely to have health and behavioral problems, lack access to high-quality educational opportunities, become teen parents, and earn less or be unemployed as adults.”
The new data show that in 2011, Rhode Island ranked last of the six New England states and 27th in the country for child poverty. In 2010, Rhode Island’s child poverty rate of 19 percent was ranked 6th in New England and 22nd nationally.
The poverty data are based on the federal poverty threshold, which is defined for 2011 as an income of $18,123 a year for a family of three with two children and $22,811 for a family of four with two children.
According to the census data released this week, last year, 11 percent (22,756) of Rhode Island children living in poverty were living in extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is defined as one-half of the federal poverty level, or $9,062 a year for a family of three with two children and $11,406 for a family of four with two children in 2011.
“The effects of the recession, including lingering unemployment, have hit Rhode Island harder and longer than expected and the state’s economic recovery has been slow,” noted Bryant. “In these challenging times, it is critical that we do everything we can to maintain state and federal programs that support the well-being of children and families in Rhode Island. Our Congressional leaders can help by preserving the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), two of the most important tax provisions for children. These two tax credits help families meet their children’s basic needs. In 2010, these two credits kept close to 5 million children out of poverty in the U.S.”
Child poverty data is available for Rhode Island’s cities and towns in 2012 Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook, which can be found at www.rikidscount.org. KidsCount is a statewide children’s policy organization that works to improve the health, economic well-being, safety, education and development of Rhode Island children.