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What's New
2012 Supplemental  Poverty Measure (SPM) released by Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau now calculates a Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into the account the impact of different benefits and expenses, as well as geographic differences in housing costs. Click here for the full report.

Rhode Island one of nine states highlighted for its work in improving access to work support programs
Work Support Strategies (WSS) is a multiyear, multi-state initiative to implement reforms that help eligible low-income families get and keep a full package of work support benefits, including Medicaid, nutrition assistance (SNAP), and child care assistance. This report summarizes the lessons learned from the nine planning grant states (Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina), just one year into a four-year project. The report includes what the states did, how they overcame challenges, and how the planning year changed their strategies and capacities for the future.

  • For the full report, please click here.
  • For the Rhode Island specific report, please click here. This report describes Rhode Island's accomplishments and lessons learned during the initiative's first year.

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT releases new Issue Brief on Child Poverty
Rhode Island KIDS COUNT released its latest Issue Brief - Child Poverty in Rhode Island. The Issue Brief takes an in-depth look at child poverty in Rhode Island's 39 cities and towns, and provides poverty data by age, race, and family structure. The Issue Brief also provides recommendations on how to alleviate poverty among Rhode Island's children.

"Spotlight on States" Updated
State and local governments, community-based organizations and other non-profits play a significant role in implementing policies and programs to reduce poverty and promote opportunity. Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity has updated its “Spotlight on the States” resource to better serve as a platform for collecting state-level information on these efforts. Click to view the Rhode Island spotlight. 

New Reports Show Summer Meals are Reaching Fewer Low-Income Children
Fewer low-income children participated in the nation’s summer nutrition programs in July 2011 than a year earlier, according to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, an analysis by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Only one in seven of the low-income students who depended on the National School Lunch Program during the regular 2010-2011 school year received summer meals in July 2011.

RI is One of Six States to Receive Grants to Streamline Services for Low-Income Working Families
Fragile households seeking solid footing in a weak economy will receive reinvigorated support as Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and South Carolina take up the challenge of streamlining services aiding low-income working families. The six states have been awarded three-year grants to test and implement easy-to-navigate, quick-to-deliver public benefit systems. The grants, the centerpiece of the Work Support Strategies: Streamlining Access, Strengthening Families (WSS) initiative, average about $460,000 per state for each year. Click to read the news release.

KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot Now Available
In its first data snapshot of the year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT explores the increased number of children living in America's high-poverty communities. The new snapshot includes the latest concentrated-poverty data for states and for the 50 largest cities, as does the KIDS COUNT Data Center, a source for the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being. Read the report at www.aecf.org.

National Report Finds Many Rhode Islanders Not Prepared for Financial Crisis
The Center for Economic Development released its 2012 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard. The report takes a comprehensive look at wealth, poverty and the financial security of families in each of the 50 states. According to the report, one in five Rhode Island households lacks the money needed to weather a job loss, major medical bill or other financial crisis.

Rising Poverty Rates Take a Toll on Two Generations
The younger the parent and the younger the child, the more likely a family is to be poor, according to a new Child Trends report, Two Generations in Poverty: Status and Trends among Parents and Children in the United States, commissioned by Ascend: The Family Economic Security Program at the Aspen Institute. As policy makers ponder the merits of alternative measures of poverty, the Child Trends report outlines the disproportionate effects of poverty on young children, young parents, and children and parents in single-mother families.

New Report Highlights the Benefits of SNAP
A new report from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) details the characteristics of SNAP participants in FY 2010, including the percentage of households in each state whose incomes were lifted above the poverty level by receipt of SNAP benefits. Nationally, SNAP lifted 3.9 million people above the poverty line. The ten states where SNAP made the largest percentage point difference in lifting households above 101 percent of the poverty level were NY, VT, RI, MA, AK, WI, CT, NH, ME, ID. Follow these links to FRAC’s state-by-state analysis of SNAP benefits’ impact on poverty (pdf), the FNS summary (pdf) and full FNS report (pdf).

Providence has the highest unemployment rate among Hispanics
The Hispanic unemployment highest in Northeast metropolitan areas briefing paper, by the Economic Policy Institute's Algernon Austin, details the Hispanic unemployment rates in the 38 large metropolitan areas for which they were able to derive estimates. Of the 38 places studied, 18 saw an increase in Hispanic unemployment of over one percentage point since 2009. Providence, Rhode Island had the highest unemployment for Hispanics with a rate of 25.2 percent, followed by Hartford, Connecticut at 23.5 percent.

New Report Says One in Six Americans in Households Struggling Against Hunger
More than 48.8 million Americans lived in households struggling against hunger in 2010, according to new data released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its annual report on food insecurity. Of them, 16.2 million are children (21.6 percent of all children). Previously, in 2009, 50.2 million Americans were in food insecure households. Most states saw an increase in food insecurity, demonstrating the depth and impact of the recession. In fact, some of the states with the largest growth in food insecurity from before the recession (2005-2007) to during the recession (2008-2010) were the states hardest hit by the housing collapse or soaring joblessness, including California, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

SNAP/Food Stamp Participation Skyrockets in Rhode Island
According to figures from the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), the number of people receiving SNAP/Food Stamps skyrocketed 88 percent, from 87,235 in June 2008 to a record 163,608 in June 2011. One in six residents now receive the benefit, which has grown in participation for 36 consecutive months; the last quarter saw an average of 1,000 Rhode Islanders a month applying for the program. Read the complete Providence Journal article here.

Food Hardship in America Report Released
The Food Research and Action Center recently released its Food Hardship in America 2010 report. The report looks at rates of food hardship (rates of households answering “yes” over the course of a year to the question whether there were times over the past year “when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed”) for households without children and households with children.

Release of Georgetown University Center report on Education and the Workforce
A new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce predicts that by 2018 the share of jobs in Rhode Island requiring a college education or the equivalent will be 61%, second-lowest among the six New England states and 28th in the nation.

Funding Public Services Is the Best Route to Prosperity
The Political Economy Research Institute report, Prioritizing Approaches to Economic Development in New England: Skills, Infrastructure and Tax Incentives, includes economic forecasts for New England and some discussion on poverty, unemployment, and effective strategies for improving the region’s economy.Recommendations highlight the positive impact that public investments in high-quality early care and education, Head Start, school reform and higher education can have on the economy.

 Release of 2010 RI Standard of Need Report
Every two years, The Poverty Institute publishes The Rhode Island Standard of Need (RISN).This report provides detailed information on how much it costs to live in Rhode Island and how government assistance programs help families meet basic needs.This year's RISN shows that it costs a single parent family nearly $50,000, and a two-parent family almost $54,000, to raise two young children.

The Effect of the Recession on Child Well-Being
First Focus has released a new report that synthesizes the evidence on the effects of the recent and prior recessions on child well-being. This report examines four areas of child well-being – health, food security, housing stability and maltreatment – and reviews the relationship of each to the well-being of children during recessions both past and present.

Help for Working and Unemployed Families in English and Spanish
This publication by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT describes services and benefits that can help Rhode Island's working and unemployed families. It includes current income-eligibility requirements and other basic information on public benefit programs such as RIte Care health insurance, SNAP/food stamps, child care subsidies and tax credits that are available to families with low- or moderate- incomes. Order free copies of Help for Working and Unemployed Families in English or Spanish by faxing or mailing the materials order form.

girl on stairwayNew Report from the Urban Institute on Effects of Childhood Poverty Persistence
June 30, 2010: Childhood Poverty Persistence: Facts and Consequences uses longitudinal data to examine the effects of the living in households in poverty by the duration of the poverty experience on children. According to the report, 49% of children who are poor at birth go on to spend at least half their childhoods living in poverty. In addition, children who are born into poverty and spend multiple years living in poor families have worse adult outcomes than their counterparts in higher-income families.

Help Prevent Families From Losing Cash Assistance
June 29, 2010: At the end of June, 850 families (including about 1,200 children) will lose the cash assistance they receive through Rhode Island Works because they have reached the new time limit for the program - no more than 24 months in any 60-month period. Many of these families can continue to receive cash assistance if they apply for a hardship extension. The Poverty Institute has developed a memo that provides more information about steps you can take to help these families as well as a flyer to give to families and post at your agency. Please make every effort to let families at risk of losing their cash assistance know about this opportunity and encourage them to apply.

Helping Low-Income Fathers Get Connected
June 25, 2010: Read the Center for American Progress report which shows how helping low-income fathers will benefit children and families. According to the report, low-income fathers need to get connected to employment, society and housing can improve outcomes for children and families.

New Website Available for Child and Family Poverty Reduction in New England
May 25, 2010: The New England Consortium (NEC), a six-state collaborative of child research and policy organizations, has come together to develop a common set of priorities to reduce child and family poverty in their individual states and region. The NEC's new website offers a range of resources for child advocates including data, research and advocacy tools related to child and family poverty reduction. Click here to access the site.

Poverty Can Slow Normal Development
May 14, 2010: Findings from a new study which recently appeared in Pediatrics show that the effects of poverty- from crowded housing to insufficient heat and uncertain diet- combine to lower the chances that infants and toddlers will be healthy and grow normally. Given rising poverty among families with young children, the findings of the study raise serious concerns among pediatritians and advocates. Click here to access the study and learn more.

 WRNI: Advocates Fear Effect From Loss of Welfare Benefits
April 29, 2010 - On June 30th, about 950 very poor families will lose their cash assistance due to time limits put into effect under RI Works. Without this safety net, children in these families will be at risk of experiencing economic hardship, including hunger and homelessness. For more information, listen to the news story, "Advocates fear effect from loss of welfare benefits," on WRNI.

Unemployed Youth
April 19, 2010: Though young adults represent only 13.5% of the workforce, they now account for 26.4% of unemployed workers. Even during periods of expansion, younger workers experience higher unemployment. A new briefing paper from the Economic Policy Institute discusses the severity of the unemployment crisis facing young adults, its historical context, and the implications for their future wages and skills. Click to access The Kids Aren't Alright: A Labor Market Analysis of Young Workers.

What Works in Federal Food Programs
April 9, 2010: A new report from the Center for American Progress highlights federal food program effectiveness.The report gives an in depth look at the 20th century history of hunger and food insecurity in the United States alongside the key reforms that led to significant gains by the end of the 1970s. The report also looks at how programs have failed to keep pace with a changing U.S. economy but also highlight how well they worked during the recent crises of Hurricane Katrina and the economic recession. View Doing What Works to End U.S. Hunger.

Plans for Alternate Poverty Measure Announced
March 3, 2010: The U.S. Census Bureau announced yesterday that an alternative measure of poverty status is being developed. The new method would better reflect the reality faced by low-income families and help identify better ways in which current government programs can be utilized. The traditional poverty measure is largely considered to be outdated and does not accurately reflect the ways low income families today are struggling. The new supplemental measure will provide a more accurate picture of household budgets, and whether families are able to meet their most basic needs. Learn more about the current poverty measure and ways it could be changed for the better by viewing a short video presentation from Half in Ten.

Improving Access to Public Benefits
February 24, 2010: A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation calls for improved outreach efforts to increase public awareness of eligibility requirements, complicated application processes, and other barriers which prohibit eligible low-income and unemployed families being unable to access public benefits and other resources. The report also calls for new technology-based tools to ease application processes. Learn more when you read Improving Access to Public Benefits: Helping Eligible Individuals and Families Get the Income Support They Need.

Effect of the Recession on Children in Poverty
February 1, 2010: First Focus has released an analysis of poverty statistics of 2008, and the resulting growth in need for 2009. Findings indicate that nearly one in five children under age 18  lived in poor families in 2008, and child poverty is expected to have been driven even higher in 2009. The report also analyzes growth in SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefit participation. Read the full report here.

Food Hardship: A Closer Look at Hunger
January 25, 2010: Data released from the Food Research Action Center (FRAC) reveal the extent to which Americans are struggling to afford enough food in every Congressional District and in 100 of the country's largest metropolitan areas. The food hardship rate is high for households with children. Respondents in such households reported food hardship at at rate 1.62 times that of other households- 24.1% versus 14.9% in 2009. For households with children, in 22 states one quarter or more of respondents reported food hardship. Click to access Food Hardship: A Closer Look at Hunger.

One in Six Americans Struggling Against Hunger in 2008
November 24, 2009: A report from the USDA shows that more than one in six Americans lived in households struggling against hunger in 2008. The 2008 number is the highest since the USDA first started the survey in 1995. The number of people in the worst-off category (living in "very low food secure" households) experienced the fastest pace of growth, from 11.9 million to 17.3 million. Increases among children were also found, and according to one report, one in four children lived in households struggling with hunger. View a release from the Food Research Action Coalition on the numbers.

Census Bureau Report on Child Support
November 16, 2009: Nearly half of parents owed child support in 2007 received the full amount, while nearly one third received only a portion of the amount owed, according to a new national report from the Census Bureau. The report, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and their Child Support: 2007, focuses on the child support income that custodial parents received from non-custodial parents living elsewhere, and other types of assistance, such as health insurance and noncash assistance. Access the report here.

Study: Half of U.S. Children will be on Food Stamps in Their Lifetime
November 6, 2009: Researchers from the University of Washington and Cornell University have completed an analysis of thirty years of  longitudinal data to conclude that nearly half of all U.S. children and 90 percent of black children will be on food stamps at some point during childhood, and fallout from the recession could push the numbers higher. The analysis, was released in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, found that households in need of the program use it for relatively short periods of time but are also likely to return to the program at several points during the childhood years. Access more information about the study here.

Average Family Income Now Lower than a Decade Ago
September 22, 2009: Figures released this month from the U.S. Census bureau on Poverty, income, and health insurance confirm that over the last decade, the average U.S. household has ended up with a lower income. The median household income fell to $50,303 in 2008, down about $1,000 (when adjusted for inflation) from the 1998 level of $51,295. View charts that illustrate key points of the report.

Neighborhoods and the Black-White Mobility Gap
September 8, 2009: A report from the Economic Mobility Project examines the impact of neighborhood poverty rates experienced during childhood on economic mobility. Among the findings, the brief reports that experiencing high neighborhood poverty throughout childhood strongly increases the risk of falling down the income ladder. Access the full report here.

The Need for a Better Poverty Measure
September 3, 2009: The federal poverty measure, the standard which is meant to shape our understanding of who is poor, how many people are in poverty, and how much poverty increases or decreases when policy changes are made, is flawed and does not provide an accurate picture of the reality of poverty. Federal legislation is being considered that would make changes to the poverty measure based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences. Click here to view a memorandum from the Center for American Progress.  

Two New Reports Analyze Child Food Insecurity
July 16, 2009: Two new reports highlight impact of the recession on children's access to food. A Children's HealthWatch study finds increases in the percentage of low-income families with young children are going hungry due to the recession. The Food Research and Action Center's (FRAC) report, Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation, offers data on the number of children partcipating in summer nutrition programs nationally and in each state.

New Report Outlines Seven Strategies to Achieve President's Goal of Ending Child Hunger by 2015
July 2, 2009: Strategies outlined in a new report from FRAC focus on both improving and expanding the nation's nutrition programs, including SNAP/Food Stamps, WIC and the school meals and summer, afterschool and child care nutrition programs. Strengthening these programs will both bolster the economy and strenghthen supports for working families trying to move out of poverty. Access the report here.

Report: Economy Will Recover From Recession,
Children Will Not

May 29, 2009 - According to new First Focus report children who fall into poverty durning an economic recession fare worse far into adulthood than their peers who avoided it all together. Specifically, children who are forced into poverty earn less, achieve lower levels of education, and are less likely to be gainfully employed over their lifetimes than those who avoided poverty. In addition, these children are more likely to be in poor health as adults.

The Strengths of Poor Families
May 26, 2009: Although poor families experience socioeconomic disadvantages, these families may be strengthened by their family routines and relationships, according to a new Child Trends brief. The Strengths of Poor Families analyzes data from more than 100,000 families from the 2003 National Survey of Children's Health to find similarities and contrasts between poor and more affluent families. Access the brief here.

New Brief Highlights Limitations of the Current Poverty Level Measure
May 26, 2009: The current poverty measure does not include such important financial strains on families such as material hardship or debt. The National Center for Children in Poverty has released a new fact sheet which discusses how the U.S. government measures poverty, why the current measure is inadequate, and what alternative ways exist to measure economic hardship. Click here to view the fact sheet.

Economic Recession is Testing Welfare Reform
April 27, 2009: An article in Forbes Magazine describes the welfare reforms enacted in 1996 which are being tested by the economic recession. Welfare reform ended automatic entitlements to federal assistance and set a five-year time limit on benefits. However, welfare reform assumed that a large number of low-wage jobs would be created to employ those leaving welfare, and the recession has made low-wage jobs less available. Access the article here.

Facts about Adolescents in Poverty
April 24, 2009: The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) has released a new publication Basic Facts about Low-Income Adolescents. According to the research, of the 29 million adolescents (age 12-18) in the United States, 50% live in poor or low-income families, and 21% of adolescents in low-income families do not have an employed parent. Learn more when you download the Basic Facts about Low-Income Adolescents report.

The Labor Market Impacts of the National Economic Crisis in Rhode Island
April 23, 2009: The report, released by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, focuses on job loss. The report notes that while Rhode Island's job losses are widespread, there are sizable differences in the negative labor market impacts of the economic crisis on key industries, occupations and demographic groups in Rhode Island. Click to view The Labor Market Impacts of the National Economic Crisis in Rhode Island.

The Fiscal Consequences of Dropping Out of High School in RI
April 23, 2009: The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce has released a new report, The Fiscal Consequences of Dropping Out of High School in Rhode Island. The report details the impact of educational attainment on lifetime earnings, expected lifetime tax payments, and lifetime transfer costs and incarceration costs. Click here to view the report.

Analysis of Budget Provisions Impacting Economic Well-Being
April 21, 2009- Governor Carcieri has released the FY2010 Budget, which contains implications for children and family's economic well-being. View an analysis of FY10 budget provisions impacting economic well-being prepared by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.

Report Finds Nearly One-Half of Children in Immigrant Families Live in Poverty
April 16, 2009: Nearly one half (47.9%) of children in immigrant families live in poverty when basic living and child care costs are taken into account, according to a new research brief from Child Trends and the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis, University at Albany, SUNY. The brief, Children in Immigrant Families- The U.S. and 50 States: Economic Need Beyond the Official Poverty Measure, analyzes Census 2000 data to present two new estimates of poverty rates for children using measures that differ from those currently being used by the federal government to determine the official poverty threshold. View the report here.

SNAP/Food Stamps Summary from Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
April 13, 2009- The Food Stamp Program has changed its name to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), but that's not all that's new within the program. View an Overview of Changes to the Food Stamp/SNAP Affecting Rhode Island Families with Children, prepared by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, for information on the most recently implemented changes affecting the program.  

New Issue Brief on Child Poverty
April 13, 2009: A new Child Trends issue brief, Children in Poverty: Trends, Consequences, and Policy Options uses 2007 Census data to present a statistical portrait of children in the US. The brief highlights consequences of poverty for children and suggests program and policy approaches that hold promise for decreasing poverty among low-income children and their families. Among the trends reported, the brief found that children are nearly twice as likely as adults to be poor. The brief also reports on substantial racial disparities for among child poverty rates.

Food Insecurity in Immigrant Families
March 9, 2009- Young children in immigrant families are a growing and diverse population in the U.S. One in four children under age three live in an immigrant familiy with at least one foreign-born parent. It is, therefore, significant to find that infants and toddlers with immigrant parents experience higher levels of food insecurity compared to their counterparts with native-born parents. This means, these babies live in households with limited or uncertain availibility of nutritionally adequate foods. Infants with immigrant parents who have recently arrived in the United States or are limited English proficient (LEP) are most likely to face food insecurity. View the Child Trends brief for more information.

Federal Economic Recovery Package Includes Help for Family Income Supports
February 5, 2009: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 includes several proposals for increased funding/suuport of important programs that affect children and families. Regarding income supports, proposals include: an increase in the maximum food stamp benefit and increased funding to states to manage higher food stamp caseloads; additional reductions in the income threshold required for the Child Tax Credit, which would allow more low-income households to claim a child tax credit; and establishment of an emergency contingency fund for TANF to provide matching grants to states with caseload expansions. For more information, view a CBPP report on the Economic Recovery Package.

symbols of financial crisesBriefs Detail Importance of Income Supports in Economic Recessions
January 8, 2009 - Six new briefs detail the key role that programs such as Medicaid, SCHIP, Earned Income Tax Credit, SNAP program (formerly food stamps), TANF program (formerly AFDC) and other income supports have played in the well-being of Americans during and after economuc downturns since the 1970s. These briefs by the Urban Institute also discuss what might be ahead, and how these government programs aid those in distress.