Despite having the lowest overall child poverty rate, Connecticut is home to five cities with the child poverty rates over 25%. In an effort to address this crisis, legislation was passed in 2004 creating the Child Poverty Council which was charged with reducing child poverty by 50% over the next ten years. Nine years later, childhood poverty has actually increased due to the recession and several rounds of budget cuts. Both the Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS) and Connecticut Voices for Children (CT Voices) have actively worked to protect several programs that serve low income families with some success, and have worked with the Child Poverty Council when possible to draft new policy recommendations.
National KIDS COUNT state-by-state profiles consistently rank Vermont in the top 10 in the nation. In 2012, Vermont ranked third for overall child well-being. Unfortunately, like the rest of the nation, the recession has had a significant impact on Vermont families. Vermont has experienced a substantial increase in the number of children living below the federal poverty line. In 2011, nearly 15% of children in Vermont were poor as were 23% of children under age six. For 30 years Voices for Vermont’s Children has been a voice for children of all ages by raising awareness of the needs of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and by advocating to protect and improve public policies that support our kids and families.
Over the last decade, Maine has seen a significant increase the number of children living in poverty. According to the American Community Survey (ACS) one-year estimates, 18.2% (49,000) Maine children under age 18 lived in poverty in 2011, a 23% increase from 2007 when the child poverty rate was 14.8%. There are significantly more Maine children living in poverty today than there were five years ago. Because Maine is a large state with a small population, it has an expensive infrastructure including schools, roads, and health care delivery. Despite these challenges, the Maine Children’s Alliance (MCA) continues to push for policies at the state and federal level to improve conditions for children throughout the state.
Massachusetts continues to be one of the wealthiest states in the nation and has one of the highest median incomes for families with children. According to the 2012 national KIDS COUNT state-by-state profiles, Massachusetts ranks second best in the nation on indicators of child well-being. And Massachusetts leads the nation in the percentage of children with health care coverage, with almost every child in Massachusetts covered by health insurance. At the same time, however, the child poverty rate in Massachusetts has hovered around 13% for a decade despite periodic improvements in the overall economy. In addition, the disparity between high-income and low-income residents is among the highest in the nation. For over 45 years, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) has worked at the federal, state and local levels to advance systemic reforms that address the root causes of poverty and that challenge initiatives or processes that harm poor and low-income children and their families.
Although ranked the number one state nationally by Annie E. Casey’s Kids Count measures for the wellbeing of children, New Hampshire’s child poverty rate has doubled in the past decade and is now 12%. Roughly 34,000 of the 287,234 children in the state live at 200% of poverty. NH Kids Count has a partnership with the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute to conduct research and compile data to help shape strategies to fight child poverty. In April, NH Kids Count will release the 2012 New Hampshire Kids Count Cities Data Book, profiling 14 cities and towns across the state and 24 indicators of child well-being. The report, as well as other data compiled by NH Kids Count will be available in both hard copy and electronically at www.nhkidscount.org.
Rhode Island has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and continues to experience the negative effects of the nation’s recession. In 2011, 21.9% of Rhode Island’s children lived in poverty, up from 15.5% in 2008. While Rhode Island’s investments in health insurance coverage for children have continued, the state has cut back its investment in child care and RI’s TANF program at a time of increasing need and increased child poverty. Rhode Island KIDS COUNT is an active member of the state’s Interfaith Poverty Coalition, a group of faith and non-profit leaders working to reduce poverty through state-level advocacy on issues such as increasing access to affordable housing, reforming the state’s TANF program, and stopping predatory, payday lending. Rhode Island KIDS COUNT is also working with the state to implement strategies to streamline access to work support programs so eligible families have better access to the affordable health care, child care, food assistance, and cash assistance they need to find and keep employment.