On Monday morning, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT released its 20th annual Factbook, which provides valuable data about Rhode Island’s children in the areas of education, safety, health, economic well-being, and family and community. Over the past two decades, this comprehensive report has been used to back up the need for legislative and policy changes throughout the state and the country.
Each year this report, a physical book with all 70 indicators, including child population, infant mortality, graduation rate and youth violence, to name a few, is presented to nearly 500 people. Among the group who attends the annual breakfast are members of Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation, General Assembly, state leaders, city leaders and other professionals in the education, health and safety fields.
And this 190-page book will not be thrown in a desk drawer somewhere never to be seen again. Because it is one of the most comprehensive reports concerning every area that affects Rhode Island’s kids, it is often used as a reference when drafting new legislation at the national or state level. It can be used when looking for data to back-up the need for increased funding to programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Head Start.
Likewise, the news media use it when researching data to back up a story.
At Monday’s breakfast to announce the report, keynote speaker Jann Jackson, senior associate of Policy Reform and Advocacy of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, applauded Rhode Island KIDS COUNT for being a leader in the country by providing data that cuts through ideology and antidotes.
She added that the data shows kids are healthier because of greater access to health care and more solid proof that issues do exist and need to be addressed.
Over the years, the declines in certain indicators, such as teen birth rate or youths in the juvenile detention system, and increases in others, such as participation in school breakfast programs and graduation rates, show that things are getting done. Other indicators such as teen drug and alcohol use and the need for more early education show us where the work still needs to be done.
But thanks to KIDS COUNT, we have an idea of what’s working, what’s not, and what we need to do to keep Rhode Island’s kids happy, healthy and on track for success.