Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Issue Briefs

The Issue Brief series provides an in-depth analysis of current issues affecting Rhode Island children and families, incorporating the best available data, research, and best practices. Each Issue Brief includes specific recommendations for improvement.

For a chronological listing of our Issue Briefs, please visit our Publications Archive.

Child Welfare

  • Child Neglect and Abuse in Rhode Island: Prevention and Support for Children and Families - March 2022
    Children need love, affection, and nurturing from their parents and caregivers for healthy physical and emotional development from birth through adolescence. However, parents and caregivers may have difficulty providing this support and may be at increased risk of maltreating their children if they are overwhelmed by multiple risk factors such as poverty, substance abuse, intergenerational trauma, isolation, or unstable housing. This publication discusses the data and research about child neglect and abuse, and offers recommendations for prevention and to support children and families involved in the child welfare system.
  • Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System in Rhode Island, February 2019
    The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are a time of great opportunity and great vulnerability. Experiences during the first three years are critical to healthy brain development and positive relationships with parents and caregivers and lay the foundation for social, emotional, cognitive, language, and physical development. Nationally and in Rhode Island, very young children are more likely to experience abuse and neglect than older children. In Rhode Island in 2018, nearly one in four victims of child abuse and neglect were infants and toddlers under age three (856 out of 3,505 victims).
  • Adolescents in the Child Welfare System in Rhode Island, October 2017
    This Issue Brief presents data and analysis on adolescents in the child welfare system, including maltreatment and trauma, supports specifically for teens, and issues related to youth exiting the child welfare system through aging out or achieving permanency. The report also includes recommendations to best support adolescents in the child welfare system, to ensure healthy development and a healthy transition to adulthood.
  • Young Children in the Child Welfare System, December 2015
    In Rhode Island and in the U.S., young children under age 6 are more likely to experience maltreatment (neglect or abuse) than older children. Safe, stable, nurturing relationships in the first years of life are fundamental for healthy brain development. Child maltreatment disrupts the development of the brain and biological systems, resulting in short-term harm and long-term negative outcomes.

    Young Children in the Child Welfare System provides an overview of data on child maltreatment, how the child welfare system responds to abuse and neglect, the role of kinship and non-kinship foster homes, and includes recommendations for keeping children safe and meeting their developmental needs.
  • Safety, Permanency and Well-Being for Children in the Care of DCYF, November 2011 - this report gives data and information on Rhode Island’s child welfare system, including the number of children in out-of-home placement, entering and exiting foster care and achieving permanency.

Early Learning

  • Maternal Depression in Rhode Island: Two Generations at Risk, January 2018 - this report includes information on risk factors for maternal depression, effects of maternal depression on child development, and the importance of screening and treatment. The Issue Brief also includes recommendations on how to best support maternal mental health, healthy transitions into motherhood, and children’s healthy development.
  • Investing in the Future: Financing Early Education & Care in Rhode Island, September 2016 - The first five years in a child’s life are crucial to their success in school. Children begin learning at birth and brain development proceeds rapidly in early childhood. Disparities in learning based on access to enriched experiences and environments begin to appear in the first years of life and, without intervention, grow over time. 
  • Infants, Toddler, and their Families in Rhode Island, June 2015 - this report includes information and data on issues affecting Rhode Island infants, toddlers, and their families, including: economic security, parental education, family home visiting programs, quality early childhood education, healthy births, developmental screenings and other health issues, and paid family leave.
  • Young Children with Developmental Delays & Disabilities, November 2013 - this report outlines the benefits young children receive from early developmental screenings and high-quality intervention and education programs, and key issues related to young children with disabilities. The report also outlines Rhode Island’s developmental screening, referral, intervention, and education system for young children with developmental delays and disabilities.

Economic Well-Being

  • Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Children’s Economic Well-Being in Rhode Island, December 2021 - Racial and ethnic diversity has increased in the United States and Rhode Island over the last several decades and is projected to rise in the future. The diversity of Rhode Island is an asset; however, there are wide, persistent, and unacceptable disparities in children’s economic well-being by race and ethnicity. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Children’s Economic Well-Being in Rhode Island includes disaggregated data by race and ethnicity on key indicators of child and family well-being including unemployment rates, family income, poverty, wealth, homeownership, and postsecondary education. The report suggests solutions and actions Rhode Island can take to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities and promote equitable, racially aware, and community-driven policies.
  • Child Hunger in Rhode Island, December 2020 - The importance of nutrition to child development cannot be overstated. Hunger and lack of regular access to sufficient food are linked to serious physical, psychological, emotional, and academic problems in children and can interfere with their growth and development. Food insecurity is a method to measure and assess the risk of hunger. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as not always having access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Between 2017-2019, 9.1% of Rhode Island households and 11.1% of U.S. households were food insecure. In 2019, 13.6% of all U.S. households with children were food insecure, while 37.1% of U.S. households with children and incomes below the poverty level experienced food insecurity.
  • Child Poverty in Rhode Island, June 2020 - this report highlights the far-reaching negative impacts of poverty on children and families, as well as extensive recommendations to address the issue. An increase in child poverty and widening racial and ethnic disparities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious concern. Statewide and community-specific child poverty rates are presented in the Issue Brief.
  • Working Parents, Child Care, and Paid Family Leave in Rhode Island, June 2018
    This Issue Brief includes data and research on low-income working families as well as provide a deeper analysis of three key policies – child care assistance, paid family leave, and earned sick leave – that promote family economic security and children’s development and school readiness. The Issue Brief also includes recommendations on how to improve these policies to best support low-income working parents and their young children in Rhode Island.
  • Children of Incarcerated Parents in Rhode Island, May 2017 - Parental incarceration can contribute to children’s insecure attachment to their parent, which can lead to poor developmental outcomes. Parental incarceration increases children’s risk for learning disabilities, ADHD, conduct problems, developmental delays, mental health issues, and speech problems. Children of incarcerated parents are more likely than other children to be involved with the child welfare system and to drop out of high school.  The Issue Brief presents information on parental incarceration in Rhode Island, racial and ethnic disparities, and key strategies for meeting the unique needs of children with incarcerated parents and their families while a parent is incarcerated and after a parent is released from prison.
  • Child Poverty in Rhode Island, January 2015 - poverty is an issue affecting children and families in every city and town in Rhode Island. Children in poverty, especially those who experience poverty in early childhood and for extended periods, are more likely to have physical and behavioral health problems, experience difficulty in school, become teen parents, and earn less or be unemployed as adults. Children in poverty are less likely to be enrolled in preschool, more likely to attend schools that lack resources and rigor, and have fewer opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities. Statewide and community-specific child poverty rates are presented in the Issue Brief.
  • Child Poverty in Rhode Island, November 2012


  • Multilingual Learners in Rhode Island, February 2023
    During the 2020-2021 school year, there were 15,107 Multilingual Learner (MLL) students in Rhode Island, representing 11% of all students in grades Pre-K through 12. In Rhode Island, the number of MLL/EL students nearly doubled from the 2009-2010 to 2020-2021 school year. MLL students are best taught through an asset-based approach that supports their linguistic capabilities, celebrates the rich culture they bring to the classroom through materials that reflect their identities and experiences, and creates a culture where their multilingualism is viewed as a strength and educators expect success. This report provides an overview of educational outcomes for Rhode Island's MLL students, as well as promising practices and policies to best support their success.
  • Racial and Ethnic Disparities in K-16 Education in Rhode Island, January 2023 - The diversity of Rhode Island is an asset; however, there are wide, persistent, and unacceptable disparities in education by race and ethnicity. This Issue Brief outlines the root causes of racial and ethnic disparities in education, and incorporates Rhode Island data across educational indicators and outcomes. Policy and community solutions to address these persistent racial and ethnic disparities are presented. 
  • Improving High School Graduation Rates in Rhode Island, March 2017 - This Issue Brief presents detailed graduation and dropout rates for every school and district in Rhode Island, research on early warning signs and risk factors of dropping out, as well as key strategies for increasing student engagement, graduation rates, and college and career readiness.
  • Preventing Bullying in Rhode Island Schools, December 2016 - Bullying behavior is a social, educational, and health problem that affects many children and adolescents in Rhode Island and in the U.S. Youth involved in bullying can experience higher rates of mental health problems, aggression, suicide, drug use, school absence, physical health problems, and cognitive functioning during childhood and adolescence as well as into adulthood. National, statewide, and community-specific information is presented, along with recommendations to prevent bullying in Rhode Island schools.
  • Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters, May 2014 - this report discusses the lifelong importance of reading proficiently by the end of third grade, access to high-quality educational opportunities, and gives recommendations to develop strong readers across the state.
  • Improving High School Graduation Rates in Rhode Island, November 2013 - this report presents new data on graduation rates in Rhode Island and individual school districts, and provides recommendations for improvement.
  • Improving College Access and Completion in Rhode Island, June 2013

Health Issues

  • Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Maternal, Infant, and Young Children’s Health in Rhode Island, January 2023 - Pregnancy is the beginning of development for a child. Maternal health before, during, and after pregnancy impacts the overall health and well-being of a child in both the short and long-term. Currently, there is a maternal health crisis both nationally and in Rhode Island. Beyond that, there are unacceptable and persistent disparities in maternal, infant, and child health outcomes by race and ethnicity that disproportionally impact Black, Indigenous, People of Color women and children. Addressing these disparities will require a focus on the important connection between birthing parents and their babies and focus on the health and well-being of both individuals. Please register for the publication release via Zoom (Monday, January 30, from 3pm - 4:30 pm). Our new Issue Brief clearly outlines where disparities exist, the root causes of these disparities, and the steps we need to take to address this legacy of inequity.
  • Preventing Youth Tobacco Use in Rhode Island, October 2017 - The Issue Brief presents detailed rates of youth cigarette, tobacco product, and e-cigarette use in Rhode Island, risk factors for youth tobacco and e-cigarette use, an overview of tobacco control programs and policies, as well as recommendations for eliminating youth tobacco use and their use of new products such as e-cigarettes.
  • Child and Adolescent Obesity in Rhode Island, November 2014 - the consequences arising from childhood obesity are serious, complex, and can be long lasting. Obesity is associated with many health problems, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, asthma, other acute and chronic health problems; and an increased susceptibility for social and psychological problems. In this Issue Brief, new district-level information is presented on positive health habits of Rhode Island students; and new city/town-level information presented on environmental and social measures relating to obesity.
  • Disparities in Children's Health, February 2012 - this report provides information on racial and ethnic disparities in maternal and child health in Rhode Island, including perinatal health, infant health, asthma and obesity
  • Access to Oral Health Care for Children in Rhode Island, September 2011- this report outlines oral health and the importance of dental care for children in Rhode Island. It includes an overview of dental coverage for children with Medicaid/RIte Smiles, a description of dental services available and recommendations for increasing access.

Juvenile Justice

  • Juvenile Justice in Rhode Island, June 2014 - this report provides an overview of the juvenile justice system in Rhode Island, juvenile justice trends over the past decade, and provides an in-depth look at youth currently involved in the system. The Issue Brief also provides an overview of best practices for improving youth outcomes and community safety.
  • Juvenile Justice in Rhode IslandJuly 2009

Racial and Ethnic Disparities

For older publications, please visit our Publications Archive

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT works to improve the health, safety, education, economic security, and development of Rhode Island’s children.


Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


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