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Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Issue Briefs and Policy Briefs

These publications provide an in-depth analysis of current issues affecting Rhode Island children and families, incorporating the best available data, research, and best practices. Each publication includes specific recommendations for improvement.

For all of our publications, please visit our Publications Archive.

Please see our 2024 Budget and Legislative Priorities.

Child Welfare

  • Opportunity Youth in Rhode Island: Recommendations and Resources for Reconnection - January 2024
    Opportunity Youth are youth and young adults who find themselves disconnected from school and work. These young people are more likely to live in intergenerational poverty, experience poor physical and mental health, have a disability, or be involved with the child welfare system, and are disproportionately People of Color. The report incorporates data and information about: Rhode Island's opportunity youth; racial and ethnic disparities; youth in the child welfare system; multilingual learners and immigrant youth; youth with disabilities; pregnant and parenting youth; youth and young adults experiencing homelessness; college preparation, enrollment, and completion; Opportunity Youth and the workforce; and more. 
  • 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).

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.

 

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. This publication 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.
  • Housing Instability and Homelessness Among Rhode Island Children, November 2021
    This report contains key recommendations to support children and families currently experiencing housing instability and homelessness, as well as recommendations for prevention efforts.
  • 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.

Education

Health

  • School-Based Mental Health Services in Newport: Perspectives from Newport Youth, Parents, and the Community, November 2023
    Servicios de salud mental en la escuela: Perspectivas de los jóvenes, los padres y la comunidad de Newport

    This report was written in collaboration with the Newport community, through thoughtful focus groups and one-on-one conversations. We contacted trusted community-based organizations with strong ties to the community to help recruit parents and youth for participation. The purpose of these conversations was to gather input from students and parents about the resources needed to support and enhance their families’ and communities' mental health and well-being.

    It is critical to note that school districts across Rhode Island and across the country are working to address the youth mental health crisis and experiencing many of the same challenges as Newport. Being willing to reflect, amplify, and learn from youth and parent experiences is a true act of leadership. Thank you, Newport Public Schools, for this leadership.

  • Root Causes of Overweight and Obesity: Community-Driven Solutions to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in RI, June 2023
    The conditions and environments where children are born, live, learn, work, and play greatly impact their health outcomes. We must understand the root causes of disparities in children’s health outcomes and well-being and listen to the voices of the communities most impacted to create solutions that support the health of all children and youth. Rhode Island KIDS COUNT partnered with trusted community organizations to gather input on the root causes of childhood overweight and obesity in Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Providence. The community was clear on steps we must take, and the recommendations reflect the vision we see for a healthier future. Please also see our new tool: Action steps for parents and community advocates (and in Spanish: Pasos de accion para los padres y los defensores do la comunidad)
  • 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. Our 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.
  • Children's Mental Health in Rhode Island, October 2022
    Mental health in childhood and adolescence is defined as reaching expected developmental, cognitive, social, and emotional milestones and the ability to use effective coping skills. Mental health influences children’s physical health as well as their behavior at home, in school, and in the community. Mental health conditions can impair daily functioning, prevent or affect academic achievement, increase involvement with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, result in high treatment costs, diminish family incomes, and increase the risk for suicide. This publication discusses the data and research about children's mental health, and offers recommendations for improving the behavioral care system and supporting families.
  • Childhood Overweight and Obesity 
    • Updated Data for Rhode Island and Trends in Rhode Island, August 2022
      These Policy Briefs present updated data from 2020 collected and analyzed from 2020 to 2022 and provide the first data showing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on childhood overweight and obesity. 
    • Childhood Overweight and Obesity - June 2021
      Updated Data for Rhode Island presents updated data from 2019
      Trends in Rhode Island presents data from 2016-2019
    • Childhood Overweight and Obesity: Updated Data for Rhode Island - May 2020
    • Childhood Overweight and Obesity: New Data for Rhode IslandMarch 2019 
      Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, the Rhode Island Department of Health’s Center for Health Data and Analysis, the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute, the State Innovation Model, and three health insurance plans – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, UnitedHealthcare, and Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island collaborated on a project to collect the most accurate childhood overweight and obesity data at the state and city/town level that could also be analyzed by race/ethnicity, age, gender, and insurance status. This is the first clinical/claims-based statewide data set of childhood overweight and obesity in Rhode Island. 
  • Trends in Tobacco Use Among Rhode Island Youth, 2020: E-Cigarettes and VapingFactors Influencing Youth UseState and School Tobacco Policies
  • Access to School Breakfast: A Key Strategy for Improving Children’s Health, Education, and Well-BeingMay 2019
    Hunger and lack of regular access to food are linked to serious physical, psychological, emotional, and academic problems in children and can interfere with their growth and development. School Breakfast is an effective way to fill these nutritional gaps. Implementing key strategies such as the Community Eligibility Program, Universal School Breakfast, and “Breakfast After the Bell” can increase participation.

 

Juvenile Justice

  • Centering Youth Voice in Juvenile Justice Reform, June 2023
    The juvenile justice system is responsible for ensuring community safety by promoting positive youth development and recognizing that the needs of children and adolescents in the justice system are different than those of adults. This report summarizes the results of focus groups with youth who had previous contact with the juvenile justice system and highlights their experiences with the police, the courts, detention, and probation. The goal of this report is to raise up youth voice, so it is central to policy decision making and juvenile justice reform efforts. 

Racial and Ethnic Disparities

  • Root Causes of Overweight and Obesity: Community-Driven Solutions to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in RI, June 2023
    The conditions and environments where children are born, live, learn, work, and play greatly impact their health outcomes. We must understand the root causes of disparities in children’s health outcomes and well-being and listen to the voices of the communities most impacted to create solutions that support the health of all children and youth. Rhode Island KIDS COUNT partnered with trusted community organizations to gather input on the root causes of childhood overweight and obesity in Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Providence. The community was clear on steps we must take, and the recommendations reflect the vision we see for a healthier future. Please also see our new tool: Action steps for parents and community advocates (and in Spanish: Pasos de accion para los padres y los defensores do la comunidad)
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. This publication 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.
  • Census 2020: Spotlight on the Undercount of Children in
    Immigrant Families
  • Census 2020: Spotlight on the Undercount of Young Children

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.

Address

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903

Contact

401-351-9400
401-351-1758
Email Us

401-351-9400
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