The latest Kids Count Fact Book comes out Monday. That’s an annual report about the health and well-being of children in Rhode Island. Researchers find many of the state’s minority children are still disproportionately at risk.
Rhode Island is home to about 224,000 kids. The new data show that about a fifth of them live in poverty, up a few percentage points over the past five years. And far greater percentages of Hispanic, Native American, Black, and Asian children live in poor families. But programs designed to give low income kids a leg up, like the federally funded Head Start, are still not reaching every eligible child, said Rhode Island Kids Count head Elizabeth Burke Bryant.
“We’re trying to make sure that there’s more access to head start for low income children who might not get a pre-K seat but they are eligible for head start. But there’s still not enough,” said Bryant.
As of October 2013, nearly a thousand Rhode Island kids were on waiting lists for Head Start programs. Across-the-board federal spending cuts last school year reduced the number of Head Start slots by about 16 percent. Those were restored in January this year.
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