By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – More than one in five (21.9 percent) of Rhode Island’s children was living in poverty in 2011, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Rhode Island’s childhood poverty rate has been steadily increasing since the recession, increasing from 15.5 percent (34,816 children) in 2008 to 21.9 percent (47,127 children) in 2011.
Nationally, the child poverty rate for the United States was 22.5 percent in 2011, up from 18.2 percent in 2008.
“Children most at risk of not achieving their full potential are children in poverty,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. “They are more likely to have health and behavioral problems, lack access to high-quality educational opportunities, become teen parents, and earn less or be unemployed as adults.”
The new data show that in 2011, Rhode Island ranked 6th of the six New England states and 27th in the country for child poverty. In 2010, Rhode Island’s child poverty rate of 19 percent was ranked 6th in New England and 22nd nationally.
The poverty data are based on the federal poverty threshold, which is defined for 2011 as an income of $18,123 a year for a family of three with two children and $22,811 for a family of four with two children.