Health Issues in Rhode Island

Ensuring that Rhode Island’s children and youth have excellent physical, oral, and mental health is critical for success at all stages of development. Health impacts child well-being in all aspects, including success in school, meeting developmental milestones, and reaching their fullest potential.

Health Issues IllustrationA child’s health is strongly affected by the family and community environment in which he or she lives, learns and plays; as well as by access to high-quality health care, high-quality early learning and educational opportunities, and nurturing relationships with parents and other adults. Health insurance and health care are critical to a child's health, to prevent or treat health problems, and to and educate families about health issues.

It is also important for pregnant women to have regular medical care for the health of both the mother and baby. Early prenatal care can identify and treat health problems, impact healthy behaviors, and result in healthy fetal development and continued health through infancy.

Our Publications

Factbook Indicators

Health Fact Sheet Series

Issue Briefs and Policy Briefs

  • 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.
  • Preventing Youth Tobacco Use in Rhode Island, October 2017
    This 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Special Publications

  • Childhood Overweight and Obesity: Updated Data for Rhode Island and Trends in Rhode Island. 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: Updated Data for Rhode Island 
    May 2020: From 2016-2019 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 collaborated on a project to collect accurate childhood overweight and obesity data at the state and city/town level that could also be analyzed by race/ethnicity, age, gender, and health insurance status. The result of this unique collaboration was the first clinical/claims-based statewide data set of childhood overweight and obesity in Rhode Island. This Policy Brief presents updated data from 2018 collected and analyzed from 2018 to 2020.
  • Policy Brief - Childhood Overweight and Obesity: New Data for Rhode Island - March 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. 
  • Access to School Breakfast: A Key Strategy for Improving Children’s Health, Education, and Well-Being - 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.
  • Policy Brief: A Snapshot of Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs in Rhode Island -While no single factor is driving the increased prevalence of obesity in the United States, increasing physical activity is one strategy that can be taken along with others to help prevent and reduce the burden of child and adolescent obesity. However, too few children and youth are physically active for the recommended 60 minutes per day. A Snapshot of Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs in Rhode Island reports on Rhode Island school personnel experience with the various components of comprehensive school physical activity programs, and provides recommendations for increasing physical activity in Rhode Island schools.
  • Policy Brief: Promoting Increased Physical Activity in Schools – Regular physical activity has been shown to improve strength and endurance, help control weight, and prevent chronic disease. It has also been shown to improve academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores. Research also shows positive effects on the brain, including improved attention, processing, memory, and coping. Promoting Increased Physical Activity in Schools provides an overview of current practices and policies regarding physical activity in Rhode Island schools (including recess and physical education), and includes recommendations for promoting increased physical activity in schools.
  • Early Learning Fact Sheet: Focus on Evidence-Based Family Home Visiting, October 2015 – Healthy brain development depends on attentive, nurturing caregiving in infancy and early childhood. Research shows that there is a negative impact on brain development when young children do not have consistent, supportive relationships with caregivers and are exposed to “toxic stress.” Providing early and intensive support to families with multiple risk factors improves child development outcomes. This report includes data and information on infants born with key risk factors, and provides a comprehensive overview of Evidence-Based Family Home Visiting Programs in Rhode Island.
  • Rhode Island's Maternal and Child Home Visiting System Program Report, 2013
    Rhode Island's maternal and child home visiting system offers a variety of programs to families with young children across the state. Federal evidence-based Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) programs are designed to improve the health and development of children and families that are facing multiple challenges to success, including: poverty, teenage parenting, families with prior involvement in the child welfare system, and families struggling with chronic health and mental health issues.
  • RIte Care Results

    RIte Care is Rhode Island's Medicaid/CHIP managed care program for children, parents and pregnant women. RIte Care offers quality, affordable health coverage to low-income and working Rhode Island families. Eligibility is based on household income and size. There are no monthly premiums for RIte Care coverage. Learn more about the RIte Care and how it is positively impacting the health of Rhode Island children and families through the following publications:


Children's Health Insurance E-News

Related Rhode Island KIDS COUNT TV Shows

Special Initiatives

Related Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Resources

Additional Resources

Rhode Island

  • The Executive Office of Health & Human Services assures access to high quality and cost effective services that foster the health, safety, and independence of all Rhode Islanders.
  • The Rhode Island Department of Health is the state agency that works to prevent disease and protect and promote the health and safety of the people of Rhode Island. 
  • Rhode Island Health Care Matters is a web-based source of population data and information about community health.
  • The Rhode Island Oral Health Commission
    The Rhode Island Oral Health Commission has been the foundation of many efforts to improve oral health in Rhode Island over the past decade. Members of the Commission include private practitioners, safety net providers, community organizations, state agencies, insurers, and other oral health advocates. The Rhode Island Oral Health Commission meets quarterly. Meetings are open and all are welcome to attend.
  • The RI DataHUB (Prov Plan) is a central resource for anyone interested in using data to understand the well-being of people in Rhode Island.


  • Annie E. Casey Foundation National Data Center – Health Indicators
    Rhode Island KIDS COUNT contributes data to the national KIDS COUNT Data Center, which is managed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.The national KIDS COUNT Data Center connects you to over four million data points about the well-being of children and families in each state and across the country. You can easily access hundreds of indicators related to health, education, employment and income, child welfare, and many other topics. The Data Center is free and available to all.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is a federal agency providing information to enhance health decisions. An A to Z health index featured on the CDC website provides information on numerous health and safety related topics.
  • Child Trends is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that provides valuable information and insights on the well-being of children and youth.
  • Community Catalyst is a national non-profit advocacy organization working to build the consumer and community leadership that is required to transform the American health system.
  • Georgetown University Center for Children and Families is an independent, nonpartisan policy and research center whose mission is to expand and improve health coverage for America’s children and families.

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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