Friday, May 24, 2013
The Associated Press
AUGUSTA — Maine ranks 13th among the states in a report measuring how well children are doing in health, education and family life.
The Kids Count report released today shows improvement in Maine in some areas, but slips in others, based on latest data available. New Hampshire wound up as the top-ranked state, followed by Massachusetts and Vermont, while Nevada, New Mexico and Mississippi occupied the last three places.
In data measuring economic well-being, Maine ranked 18th overall, while the education was 23rd. But Maine ranked No. 3 in health status, and 7th in family and community life, which measures issues such as single-family homes and living in high-poverty areas. The combined rankings place Maine 13th nationally.
"Maine's higher rankings in the health and family and community domains are due to some of our successful statewide efforts, but we still have cause for concern," said Claire Berkowitz, research and kids Count director for the nonprofit Maine Children's Alliance.
"The report shows that Maine's families continue to struggle economically. And, with recent state budget cuts to programs like Head Start, child care and homes visiting, it is likely that the future success of our children and our state will be negatively affected," said Berkowitz.
The report says that in 2010, 34 percent of Maine's children had parents without fulltime, year-round employment, an increase of 17 percent in two years. Part-time or sporadic employment does not provide families with the level of income and benefits needed to meet basic needs like rent, food, and quality child care, the report says.
Also in 2010, 18 percent of Maine children lived in poverty and one-third lived in households with high housing cost burdens, defined as more than 30 percent of income spent on housing. The percentage compares to 17 percent in poverty in 2005.
But it says that from 2008-2010, more than 58 percent of Maine's 3- and 4-year-olds were not enrolled in a preschool program, a slight improvement over 2005-2007, when 60 percent were not enrolled in a preschool program.
It also found that in 2010, most of Maine's children had access to medical care and preventative services, because 96 percent had health insurance coverage. However, 11,000 Maine children still lacked health benefits.
The report was released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged children.