While finding some reasons to be hopeful, the 2018 Kids Count Factbook says nearly 20 percent of children in Rhode Island are living in poverty, and large disparities exist when it comes to minorities – Native Americans, Hispanic and Black Children – and Asian and White Children.

Kids Count also found that the average rent in Rhode Island rose for the first time in several years, while the number of families living in shelters also increased. Kids Count found that the average cost of rent in Rhode Island rose by nearly $100 to $1,385, “after remaining fairly stable between 2008 and 2016.”

Kids Count is a report issued annually by Rhode Island Kids Count. It is to be presented at a breakfast program Monday morning. Release of any information was embargoed until 12:01 a.m. Monday.

While finding areas of concern, the report also found reason to be hopeful, with Rhode Island among leaders in healthcare provided children, increases in the number of children cared for in foster care, rather than in congregate care. It also found more low-income Rhode Island children enrolled in public preschool through the State Pre-K program and Head Start, with 41 percent of low-income pupils enrolled in those programs. Additionally, it also found that all Rhode Island kindergarten pupils have access to full-day kindergarten.

“Wide gaps continue to exist between children of color and white children in nearly every Factbook indicator, and these gaps will hold Rhode Island back in terms of our educational and workforce goals and future prosperity,” says Kids Count Executive Director Elizabeth Burke Bryant.

Between 2012 and 2016, the report says, 19 percent of Rhode Island children “lived in households with incomes below the national poverty threshold.

“Disparities in poverty rates: 59 percent of Native American, 40 percent of Hispanic, and 31 percent of Black children in Rhode Island lived In poverty, compared to 8 percent of Asian children and 15 percent of White children.”

But Bryant says she is encouraged by the increase in pre-school enrollment by low-income Rhode Island Children.

The 2018 Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook says it “charts improvements and declines in the well-being of Rhode Island 208,640 children.” The data provides a Rhode Island overview and specific information for each of Rhode Island 39 cities and towns.

Factbook also groups information in five categories – family and community, economic well-being, health, safety, and education. Over the next several days, WhatsUpNewp will explore findings in each category.