2006-04-06 / News

Fact book gives data about the state of children's lives

By Donna K. Drago

The latest copy of the annual report called the 2006 Rhode Island Kids Count Fact Book was released last week.

The book analyzes data in several categories to provide information on the well-being of children across the state.

Under the health category, there were 218 babies born in Jamestown between 2000 and 2004. Of them, 10 were considered low birthweight and there was one infant death. According to data from the 55 children who were born between Sept. 1, 2001 and Aug. 31, 2002, there are five who tested positive for lead poisoning.

On alcohol and drug use by middle and high school students, some 18 percent of Jamestown's middle school students claimed to have used alcohol. Eleven percent said they had used drugs, and 10 percent said they had tried cigarettes as reported in the SALT surveys used to collect the data for the Kids Count book. High school numbers were reported with North Kingstown's results, with 43 percent saying they used alcohol, 32 percent claiming drug use, and 24 percent admitting to smoking cigarettes.

On safety issues, the fact book reported that in 2005 there was one Jamestown teen in custody at the state Training School. In 2005, there were five island children who had a parent in prison, and there were four children whose families were investigated for child abuse or neglect.

Under Economic well-being, the data shows that children enrolled in the Family Independence Program, at one percent, remained the same for 2005 as it was in 2004. In Rhode Island, some 9 percent of children's families receive cash assistance from the program.

There are 21 children receiving Food Stamps in Jamestown, though the statistics show that 36 are eligible for the assistance, and although 39 children are eligible for a free breakfast every morning, only six of them participate in the local program at the school.

Under the Women, Infants and Children program, which provides supplemental nutrition to pregnant women and children under five, only nine of 41 eligible Jamestowners participated in the program.

On education issues, the fact book reported that 132 of 733 students from 2004 to 2005, were in special education classes. The book breaks down the types of disabilities and lists the numbers of students in each category. There are five students who are emotionally disturbed, three with mental retardation, 16 with autism, 38 that are health impaired, 45 that are learning disabled, 22 with speech disorders, two with developmental disabilities, and one with "other."

The fact book reported that nine children on the island spoke English as their second language.

On disciplinary actions, there were a total of 46 suspensions - 11 out of school and 35 in school - in the 2004-05 year.

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