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One-in-Three Providence Kids Live in Poverty, Report Says

Friday, June 22, 2012

 

Nearly 15,000 Providence children lived in families with incomes below the federal poverty level between 2006 and 2010, according to a report from Rhode Island Kids Count.

The striking statistics will be discussed today when community leaders gather for a presentation at Central High School.

Between 2006 and 2010, more than one in three children in Providence (35.6% or 14,921 children) lived in families with incomes below the federal poverty level ($18,123 for a family of three with two children and $22,811 for a family of four with two children). During that same time period, one in six children in Providence (16.8% or 7,054 children) lived in families in extreme poverty, with incomes less than one-half the federal poverty level ($9,062 for a family of three with two children and $11,406 for a family of four with two children).

“Poverty exists in every community in Rhode Island, but Providence and the other core cities – Central Falls, Pawtucket and Woonsocket – warrant special attention because they have the highest child poverty rates in the state,” stated Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. “Children living in poverty face many challenges. They are more likely to have health and behavioral problems, experience difficulty in school and become teen parents than children in higher-income families.” Poor infant health puts children at risk

Communities with high poverty rates, like Providence, tend to have poorer infant health outcomes than more advantaged communities. In fact, Providence has the highest percentage of women receiving delayed prenatal care in the state. The percentage of mothers receiving delayed prenatal care or no prenatal care has increased from 12.0% in 2001-2005 to 22.9% in 2006-2010. Providence also has the highest preterm birth rate in the state, and higher low birthweight and infant mortality rates than the state as a whole.

“Early prenatal care is important to identify and treat health problems and influence health behaviors that can hurt infant and maternal health,” noted Bryant. “Increasing access to health insurance can help improve outcomes for mothers and their babies. Low-income women with Medicaid coverage are more likely to have timely prenatal care than women who are uninsured, so it is important to continue to maintain and protect programs like RIte Care, the state’s Medicaid managed care health program, which provides access to health care for Rhode Island’s children and families.” Mobility, chronic absenteeism high among Providence students

A higher percentage of Providence school children changed schools during the 2010- 2011 school year than any other district in the state. During that time period, one in four (25%) Providence children changed schools, compared to the state rate of 14%.

According to Geller, “Children who change schools often miss learning critical concepts and skills and therefore are likely to have lower math and reading skills than children who do not change schools. Entire schools are also affected, because when large numbers of students move in and out of classrooms, teachers must slow down their teaching and address changing classroom dynamics and student needs.”

Providence also has a very high rate of chronic early absence, the percentage of children in kindergarten through third grade who have missed at least 10% of the school year (i.e. 18 days or more). During the 2010-2011 school year, more than one in five (22%) Providence children in grades K-3 were chronically absent, almost twice the state rate of 12% and the second highest rate of chronic absenteeism in Rhode Island.

“Chronic absenteeism is often caused by a combination of factors – including poverty, teenage parenting, poor maternal health, poor quality education, bullying and disruptive classrooms. It can be reduced through school, family and community partnerships that use an ongoing and intentional approach for monitoring attendance and by contacting parents as soon as troubling patterns of attendance appear,” said Bryant.

 

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