Investment Needed for CT Children to Thrive, Report Says
Monday, August 8, 2022
More investment is needed across Connecticut to support the economic well-being and education of children, according to a new annual report.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Book finds the number of children in poverty and those whose parents lack secure employment remained the same - at 13% and 26%, respectively. And they haven't changed much in the last decade.
Emily Byrne, executive director of Connecticut Voices for Children, identified the investments that could be made to address the stagnant numbers.
"We need to figure out ways where we can do a better job of connecting parents to good jobs," said Byrne. "We need to invest substantially in affordable housing for families. And we need to figure out ways that we can make the high cost of living - and the high cost, specifically, of raising children in this state - more affordable."
In terms of kids' health, Connecticut moved from seventh to eighth nationwide. That's partly due to more kids ages 10 through 17 being overweight or obese - from 25% two years ago, to 31%.
Byrne said she feels food insecurity is playing a role, as lack of a healthy diet has been linked to pediatric obesity.
But the report says more children now have health insurance.
While many metrics show Connecticut doing better or staying the same, Byrne said she feels the state's unaffordability is a growing concern. About one third of children in the state live in households with a higher housing-cost burden.
She said the state has done some work to address this, but feels more action is needed.
"Pre-pandemic, the state was short a significant amount of affordable housing units," said Byrne. "We've not yet made investments in the development of more affordable housing units. We've made some strides in land-use reform, and that needs to continue, but we also need to put resources in just building more affordable housing."
Byrne said she feels investments in Connecticut's children will set them up for success in the future. With the information outlined in the new KIDS COUNT Data Book, she said she hopes the state will be more welcoming for families, with avenues for social and emotional prosperity.
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