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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Report: Affordable Child Care Needed to Help RI Families

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Friday, June 16, 2023   

A new annual report finds Rhode Island families need better access to affordable child care.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Book ranks states based on factors for child well-being. In the category of education, Rhode Island slid from 31st among states last year, to 33rd this year.

The number of 3- and 4-year-olds not in preschool reached 56% between 2017 and 2021, a 10-year high, due in part to the rising cost of child care.

Leanne Barrett, senior policy analyst for Rhode Island Kids Count, described the resounding effect the lack of affordable child care is having.

"If you can't find child care and pay for it, you really can't work, which affects a family's economic conditions," Barrett observed. "We also saw a slight increase in the percentage of children living in poverty, which is related to parent's inability to earn a good living. And we know the lack of child care is affecting the whole state economy."

She noted staffing issues contribute to some of the state's rankings, across employment fields like education and health care. The General Assembly considered legislation to increase child care access for low-income families. However, the bill failed to advance out of committee.

Rhode Island also saw declines in fourth grade reading and eighth grade math proficiencies, a trend across the U.S.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said it is important to provide kids with the best early education to prepare them for learning later in school.

"We know that the earliest stages of life -- the birth-to-four, birth-to-five stage -- is an incredible phase of brain development for children," Boissiere pointed out. "It's important that they are in quality child care settings."

She hopes state and local leaders use some of the $40 billion in aid from the American Rescue Plan to provide affordable accessible child care in their states. At a federal level, Boissiere urged Congress to reauthorize and expand the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act.

Disclosure: The Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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