Kids Count Report – Rhode Island

Report: 26% of Rhode Island children under 5 live in poverty, Alisha A. Pina, June 4, 2015, Providence Journal: “Twenty-six percent of Rhode Island children under age five, or 14,372 young people, lived in poverty in 2013. The following year, 1,311 children throughout the state, also under age five, experienced child abuse or neglect. This reality and other adverse experiences during the most critical time of mental and physical development could have lasting, negative effects on the children, says the newest report by Rhode Island Kids Count, a nonprofit childhood research and advocacy organization…”

Kids Count Report – Rhode Island

One in five children in R.I. living in poverty, Kids Count report says, By Richard Salit, January 22, 2015, Providence Journal: “A new report finds that more than one in every five children in Rhode Island was living in poverty in 2013, a rate that is little improved since the end of the recession and is worse than the rest of New England. The report, put out by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, says 21.5 percent of children younger than 18 live below the federal poverty level. That’s 44,923 of the state’s 208,700 children, according to the report…”

Minimum Wage Laws

  • Rhode Island governor signs minimum wage increase, By Curtis Skinner, July 3, 2014, Chicago Tribune/Reuters: “Rhode Island’s Democratic governor, Lincoln Chafee, has signed a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage by $1, to $9 an hour, his office said on Thursday, following similar moves by neighboring New England states. The hike, which will take effect next year, comes as Democrats across the country have made raising the minimum wage a key priority ahead of November’s elections, saying wages for millions of Americans have not kept pace with the rising cost of living. . .”
  • Measure to repeal Seattle $15 minimum wage moves closer to ballot, By Alex Dobuzinskis, July 3, 2014, Chicago Tribune/Reuters: “A Seattle business group has submitted signatures to try to force a public vote to repeal a municipal measure that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, a leader of the organization said on Thursday. Forward Seattle, which represents restaurants, retailers and other businesses, handed in just under 20,000 signatures to the Seattle City Clerk on Wednesday, more than the 16,510 needed to qualify for the November ballot, said group co-chair Angela Cough. The proposal would ask Seattle voters to repeal a $15 minimum wage increase. . .”


Kids Count Reports – Rhode Island, West Virginia

  • Positive trends in Factbook on RI’s kids, By Jen Rodrigues, April 18, 2014, Warwick Beacon: “Rhode Island KIDS COUNT released its 2014 Factbook this week, celebrating 20 years of providing data in nearly 70 different areas related to children. The annual report is often used to craft legislation and policy changes affecting youth. The report – an inch-thick volume packed with charts and graphs – was released during a breakfast at the Crowne Plaza attended by about 500 policy makers and community leaders from government and the areas of education, health and human services…”
  • Report: 90% of W.Va. kids lack early educational opportunities, By Lydia Nuzum, April 16, 2014, Charleston Gazette: “More than nine out of 10 West Virginia children aren’t receiving the early childhood education that would help them excel later in life, according to a report released by one of the state’s largest child-advocacy organizations. According to the 2013 data released by West Virginia KIDS COUNT, 93 percent of children under 6 are receiving unknown or minimum-quality child care, and only one in five of those children is enrolled in preschool. West Virginia ranks 45th in the nation for the number of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool, despite ample evidence to suggest early education has high returns for kids down the road, according to Margie Hale, executive director of KIDS COUNT…”

Graduation Rates – Rhode Island

At R.I.’s urban schools, graduation rates are rising, By Lynn Arditi, November 26, 2013, Providence Journal: “High school graduation rates in Rhode Island’s poorest cities improved at more than twice the rate of the rest of the state during the last five years, according to a report released Monday by Rhode Island KidsCount. But among those urban students, about 34 percent — or one in three, on average — still are not graduating on time, the report said. The graduation rate in Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket increased 10 percent since 2007, to 66 percent in 2012, the KidsCount report found. In the rest of the state, the graduation rate during the same five-year period rose 4 percent, to 83 percent in 2012…”

Kids Count Report – Rhode Island

  • More RI kids poor, homeless; obesity falls, By Erika Niedowski (AP), April 8, 2013, Boston Globe: “An increasing number of children in Rhode Island are poor and experience homelessness but child well-being has improved in other areas, with the obesity rate hitting a 10-year low and juvenile delinquency down, according to a report released Monday. Twenty-two percent of children in the state were living in poverty in 2011, up from 19 percent the year before, the survey from the children’s policy organization Kids Count said. The number of children staying at homeless shelters climbed to 1,277 last year, from 1,092 in 2011 — an increase of 17 percent…”
  • Armed with facts, officials ready to fight for kids, By Jennifer Rodrigues, April 9, 2013, Warwick Beacon: “All four members of Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation, Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed, Warwick Representative Joseph McNamara and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian spoke of the importance of the 19th annual Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook, which was released yesterday during an annual policy breakfast. The annual report, which charts improvements and declines in the well-being of children and youth across the state and in each of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns, provides data on 68 different aspects of life in five categories: family and community, economic well-being, health, safety and education…”

Homeless Bill of Rights – Rhode Island

Activists aim to bolster Rhode Island’s homeless bill of rights, By Jake Grovum, November 12, 2012, Stateline: “Just two miles separate the Rhode Island State House from Amos House, a soup kitchen and service center that’s helped hundreds of thousands since opening in 1976. But it feels farther. Amos House sits amid a maze of narrow streets lined with subsidized housing and empty storefronts, past a string of convenience and liquor stores where homeless Rhode Islanders frequently gather. It’s near one of Providence’s ubiquitous homeless shelters – Crossroads – where battered women seek refuge and drug dealers often congregate outside. Advocates were looking to close the gap between Rhode Island’s homeless and the rest of the state’s citizenry when they convinced state lawmakers to approve the nation’s first Homeless Bill of Rights this past summer..”

Homeless Bill of Rights – Rhode Island

Advocates: RI’s new homeless bill of rights a national model for preventing discrimination, Associated Press, June 27, 2012, Washington Post: “While cities across the nation enact laws against panhandling and outdoor sleeping, Rhode Island is being held up as a national model for protecting homeless individuals from discrimination. Advocates say the state’s new homeless bill of rights goes further than any other law in the nation to prevent discrimination against people who lack housing. The new law prohibits governments, police, healthcare workers, landlords or employers from treating homeless people unfairly because of their housing status…”

Homeless Rights Bill – Rhode Island

Rhode Island passes bill to guarantee rights of homeless people, By Jason McLure, June 13, 2012, Chicago Tribune: “Rhode Island’s governor is expected to sign into law the first “Homeless Bill of Rights” in the United States as early as next week, formally banning discrimination against homeless people and affirming their equal access to jobs, housing and services. The legislation, which won final approval by the state Senate on Wednesday, bucks a national trend among municipalities toward outlawing behaviors associated with homelessness such as eating, sleeping and panhandling in public spaces. Among other steps, the Rhode Island law would guarantee homeless people the right to use public sidewalks, parks and transportation as well as public buildings . . .”

Rhode Island Kids Count Report

R.I.’s child population declines, poverty rises, By Richard Asinof, April 2, 2012, Providence Business News: “The number of children in Rhode Island decreased by 10 percent between 2000 and 2010 from 247,822 to 223,956, respectively, according to the 18th annual Factbook released Monday by Rhode Island Kids Count. Rhode Island was one of only three states to lose at least 10 percent of its child population during this time period. Only the communities of Central Falls, North Smithfield and West Greenwich recorded slight increases, according to the 2012 Factbook. The 171-page report, which charts improvements and decline in the well-being of children and youth in each of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns, provides a comprehensive compilation of the latest available statistics on 67 different aspects of children’s lives, from birth through adolescence…”

Unemployment Benefit Cards – Rhode Island

RI’s unemployment card fees questioned, By David Klepper (AP), February 20, 2012, Boston Globe: “Rhonda Taylor had never been on unemployment until she was laid off from her information technology job in 2008. When she received the debit card she’d use to access her unemployment benefits from the state, she assumed it worked like any other bank card. But after a month using the card, the North Providence resident noticed she was being charged a fee every time she checked her balance at an ATM. Every time she used her PIN to make a purchase. Every time she tried to withdraw cash. A dollar here, $1.50 there. The fees added up. Twenty dollars a month matters, she said, when you’re unemployed and relying on the state. The fees come from JPMorgan Chase, which the state selected in 2007 to operate Rhode Island’s debit card system. The state Senate voted last week to ask Gov. Lincoln Chafee to review the fees…”

States and Medicaid

  • Bigger share of state cash for Medicaid, By Michael Cooper, December 13, 2011, New York Times: “Medicaid has steadily eaten up a growing share of state budgets over the past three years, while education has been getting a smaller slice of the pie. That is one of the changes that the lingering economic downturn and the changing American economy have wrought on state finances, according to an analysis of state spending over the last few years released Tuesday by the National Association of State Budget Officers…”
  • State Medicaid spending soars, By Lisa Lambert, December 14, 2011, Chicago Tribune: “Spending by U.S. states on Medicaid, the healthcare program for the poor, soared last year and will likely continue growing despite measures to contain costs, according to a report released on Tuesday. Total Medicaid spending, excluding administrative costs, likely reached $398.6 billion in fiscal 2011, which ended in June for most states. That was up 10.1 percent from the year before, when spending rose 6 percent, the National Association of State Budget Officers reported. Medicaid was nearly one-quarter of all state expenditures in fiscal 2011, compared to elementary and secondary education, which accounted for 20 percent of all spending…”
  • Medicaid money for Texas to jump, By Don Finley, December 13, 2011, San Antonio Express-News: “The federal government Monday granted Texas a waiver that could mean billions more in Medicaid dollars to hospitals over the next few years, in return for having them work together to provide better care for the poor. In Bexar County, that could mean new money to help keep the mentally ill from overusing crowded hospital emergency rooms, among other new services, one local official said. At the same time, federal officials slapped down a request from Texas to deny Medicaid patients access to family planning centers such as Planned Parenthood that also provide abortions – a plan that had drawn the anger of family planning advocates…”
  • Medicaid waiver could be boon for Texas hospitals, By Don Finley, December 12, 2011, Houston Chronicle: “The federal government on Monday granted Texas a waiver that could mean billions more in Medicaid dollars to hospitals over the next few years in return for having them work together to provide better care for the poor…”
  • Studies point to flaws in Florida’s Medicaid managed care, By Christine Vestal, December 14, 2011, “Like many other states in fiscal duress, Florida sliced a large portion of its Medicaid budget this fiscal year, primarily by cutting payments to hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers. Next year, Governor Rick Scott wants to double the size of reductions to the federal-state program – again by cutting provider fees. Within the next two years, however, the Republican governor expects to shave billions from the state budget by letting private health plans take over the care of all of Florida’s Medicaid patients – more than 3 million people. Scott’s plan is a statewide expansion of a controversial five-county managed care pilot started by Republican former Governor Jeb Bush in 2006. The state Medicaid office sought approval for the plan in August and a decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is expected soon…”
  • Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget includes $2.1 billion cut in Medicaid, By Matt Dixon, December 12, 2011, Florida Times-Union: “When Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his proposed $66.4 billion budget last week, many people in the capital and around the state cast it as schools versus hospitals. Scott’s spending plan injected public education with a roughly $1 billion increase but cut $2.1 billion in reimbursements for Medicaid. The cut prompted a fast pushback from the Safety Net Alliance of Florida, a lobbying group that represents 15 of the state’s biggest hospitals. It estimates the cuts would cost its members $1.4 billion…”
  • Maine Medicaid deficit mainly due to budget miscalculations, By John Richardson, December 13, 2011, Portland Press Herald: “A $120 million budget deficit projected for the fiscal year that began July 1 has set off an ideological debate over the future of Maine’s Medicaid program. The deficit itself, however, is mostly the result of a series of technical budgeting miscalculations, according to a report prepared by the LePage administration. Problems with a new claims processing system, a loss of federal funds that wasn’t accounted for, and a failure to budget for increases in federal Medicare premiums are among the biggest causes…”
  • Proposed Medicaid cuts draw big protests in Maine, By John Gramlich, December 15, 2011, “Earlier this year, it was Arizona that drew national attention for removing tens of thousands of its citizens from the Medicaid rolls. Now, Maine Governor Paul LePage wants to do the same, saying the state-federal health insurance program is becoming unsustainable. LePage is pushing a proposal that would eliminate 65,000 Mainers from Medicaid, as the Bangor Daily News reports. At a hearing on the proposal Wednesday (December 14), hundreds of protesters converged on the State House to voice their disapproval of the plan, which seeks to close a $220 million shortfall in the state health and human services budget…”
  • Report on R.I’s Global Medicaid Waiver finds $22M in savings, By Richard Asinof, December 14, 2011, Providence Business News: “The long-awaited report by the Lewin Group on Rhode Island’s Global Medicaid Waiver was released on Dec. 13, finding that some $22.9 million in savings had been created over three years, far below the $100 million in savings claimed by Gary Alexander, former Secretary of the R.I. Office of Health and Human Services under former Gov. Donald L. Carcieri’s administration…”
  • Pa.’s drop in Medicaid rolls stirs controversy, By Don Sapatkin, December 15, 2011, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Since August, the Corbett administration has cut off more than 150,000 people – including 43,000 children – from medical assistance in a drive to save costs. That purge far exceeds what any other state has tried, health policy experts say, and officials may be walking a fine line between rooting out waste and erecting barriers to care for the poor and disabled. When most states were experiencing flat or rising Medicaid enrollment from the economic downturn, stepped-up eligibility reviews in Pennsylvania began producing a decline over the summer. The pace of cuts picked up in November, with 90,000 cases, or 4 percent, dropped in a single month. In New Jersey, enrollment increased by 391 the same month…”

2011 Kids Count Data Book – Northeastern States

Foster Care and Out-of-State Placement – Rhode Island

RI pays millions to send foster kids out of state, By David Klepper (AP), August 14, 2011, Houston Chronicle: “Nicholas Alahverdian was a 15-year-old foster child when he was sent from Rhode Island to live in facilities for troubled young people, first in Nebraska and later in Florida. According to lawsuits he filed, he was subjected to regular physical and emotional abuse. Now 24, Alahverdian blames officials in Rhode Island for moving him hundreds of miles from his home, school and friends. The state is failing its foster children when it places them far from its oversight, he said. ‘It’s an inhumane approach to a human problem,’ Alahverdian told The Associated Press. ‘These are the most vulnerable people in Rhode Island. We have the ability to provide for them here. And we’re spending all this money to ship them across the country.’ Each year, Rhode Island sends dozens of children to facilities elsewhere, at a cost to taxpayers that has averaged $14 million over the past decade, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press through an open-records request. In fiscal year 2010, for instance, 117 foster children were placed out of state, most in neighboring Massachusetts but some in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee…”

Welfare-to-Work Program – Rhode Island

Welfare change lets parents get training before job hunting, By Philip Marcelo, July 25, 2011, Providence Journal: “Rhode Island welfare recipients will be able to do more than seek a job in order to initially earn their benefits, following a change included in this year’s state budget. Now, qualified parents will be able to immediately pursue work-related activities like vocational education and literacy classes, which would make them better- prepared for the job market, according to advocates. The new provision marks the most significant change lawmakers have made to the state welfare program since it was overhauled in 2008 under then-Republican Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, and renamed Rhode Island Works. It is also one victory that supporters of the poor can point to in a budget that slashed more than $78 million for human service programs for people who are elderly, disabled or have low incomes…”

Rhode Island Medicaid Waiver

Rhode Island’s Medicaid experiment draws raves, suspicion, By Tony Pugh, May 24, 2011, Miami Herald: “After six months in hospitals and nursing homes rehabbing from a stroke, Elvira Tesarek of Warren, R.I., had a decision to make: Either Medicaid would move her to a long-term nursing facility, or she could simply go home. For Tesarek, the choice was obvious. Instead of costly institutional care, Medicaid pays for a nurse’s aide to visit Tesarek at home five days a week to help with meals and household chores. A registered nurse comes three times a week to prepare her medications. A physical therapist visits twice weekly, and a speech therapist makes occasional home visits as well. Nearly 1,300 elderly and disabled adults, such as Tesarek, have been able to leave Rhode Island nursing facilities or avoid them altogether under a pilot program designed to cut spending on Medicaid, the federal-state health plan for the poor. Many states steer certain Medicaid patients into assisted-living and home-care settings, where they have greater independence. Rhode Island’s effort, however, has garnered national attention in conservative circles not because of what it does but because of how it’s funded…”

Rhode Island Medicaid Waiver

R.I. Medicaid agreement admired in other states, By Philip Marcelo, May 16, 2011, Providence Journal: “A Medicaid agreement reached nearly two years ago between Rhode Island and the federal government continues to be praised as a model for other states and the country, even as Rhode Island’s new governor questions how much it has actually saved. Republican governors in New Jersey and Kansas cite Rhode Island’s Medicaid agreement, known as the ‘global waiver,’ as a model for Medicaid reforms they say are needed to close budget deficits. So, too, do Republican-dominated state legislatures in Minnesota and Texas, according to national policy analysts. Leading conservative thinkers argue that the Rhode Island waiver shows how governments can save money by converting federal Medicaid spending into a block grant – a key piece of the federal budget recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. But Rhode Island’s role in the debate over the nation’s primary health-insurance program for the elderly, poor and disabled comes as Governor Chafee, an independent, continues to cast doubts as to whether the agreement has actually produced the promised savings…”

Kids Count Report – Rhode Island

  • Report: Budget cuts to early childhood intervention programs are taking toll on R.I.’s poor children, By Jennifer D. Jordan, April 4, 2011, Providence Journal: “Rhode Island’s lingering recession has taken its toll on thousands of the state’s most vulnerable citizens – children in low-income families. Deep cuts in recent years to child-care subsidies, welfare cash-assistance for children and state financing for early childhood education programs have tattered their safety net. The 2011 Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook, released Monday, finds there are inadequate government supports for many of the state’s 38,600 poor children, particularly during their early years. Just 5 percent of income-eligible children have access to Early Head Start, a federal parenting and early childhood education program to help teen mothers and their infants and toddlers. And only 40 percent of low-income children participate in the federal pre-kindergarten program, Head Start, due to cuts in state subsidies that slashed the number of slots…”
  • Progress seen for RI kids, but advocates say much more needs to be done, By Richard Asinof, April 4, 2011, Providence Business News: “Children in Rhode Island saw improvements in health and education, and declines in safety and economic well-being in the last year, according to the 2011 Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook. The 17th annual benchmark report on children’s health and well-being, which charts 67 different aspects of children’s lives, was released Monday at a policy breakfast at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Providence Warwick in Warwick. The event was attended by more than 500 community and business leaders, including Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Enrollment

  • Record number of North Dakotans using food stamps, up 19 pct from 2009, By James MacPherson, February 11, 2011, Bismarck Tribune: “A record number of North Dakotans are using food stamps to buy groceries, coinciding with the state’s population growth but contrary to its robust economy, the director of the state Data Center says. North Dakota had an average of 59,888 people per month receiving food assistance in fiscal 2010, up from 53,070 in 2009, said Richard Rathge, the Data Center director and North Dakota demographer. The fiscal year ended Sept. 30. Rathge said the federal Agriculture Department figures show ‘an apparent contradiction’ with North Dakota’s strong economy that has been fueled largely by the state’s booming oil patch. North Dakota’s unemployment rate of 3.8 percent is the nation’s lowest…”
  • Record number of Rhode Islanders using food stamps, By Paul Davis, February 11, 2011, Providence Journal: “A record 155,184 Rhode Islanders received food stamps at year’s end, according to figures from the state Department of Human Services. The number of people getting help from the federally financed program – now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP – increased by more than 26,400 people in December, up 20 percent from December 2009. The number has been rising steadily over the past 12 months. That means about one in seven Rhode Islanders relies on government food assistance, another sign that the state’s poorest residents have yet to recover from the worst recession in decades…”