Kids must count in the Ocean State


The news is not good for children of Rhode Island. Not only has the U.S. Census Bureau cited a significant decline in their number in the state, but the Annual Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook released this week indicates that the struggling economy and economic recession is adversely affecting the 38,600 children living in poverty in Rhode Island.

The safety net for these poor children has been steadily cut over the years and no doubt will continue to be chopped by the budget axe as the state contends with a significant budget deficit and stagnant economy.

According to Kids Count, almost half of these 38,600 children live in "extreme" poverty as thousands more of their parents struggle to make ends meet while living in poverty. The number of children who receive free and reduced lunch continues to climb with 44 percent of students in Rhode Island now eligible.

The Kids Count 2011 Factbook should be mandatory reading for every elected official and concerned citizen in the Ocean State. Our state's future is at stake and the welfare, safety and well-being of all children must be paramount in deciding budget priorities and in making public policy decisions. We join Kids Count Executive Director Elizabeth Burke Bryant in remaining hopeful that Rhode Island "will continue to see that investments in the health and well-being of our children are the most important investments we can make."