Troubling News For Maine’s Kids
A report released Tuesday contained some sobering statistics about Maine’s kids. The 18th annual Kids Count Data Book tracks the progress of children in Maine. “This is a report not only about the state of the present and counting what’s before us in the here and now, but also a very important report as to what our future is going to be,” said John Dorrer, the Director of the Center For Workforce Research.”The news in this year’s report is troubling to say the least. According to the data, nearly a quarter of Maine’s children under 5-years-old are living in poverty. “I find that data to be shocking. That translates to 15,752 children living in Maine below the poverty level,” said John Peters of the Maine Early Learning Investment Group.The report also says the percentage of Maine children under five relying on MaineCare is going up, now at nearly 60%. In rural areas like Somerset County, there’s 2724 kids under the age of five. 2043 of those kids depend on MaineCare for health insurance.Reading levels are also an area of concern. “68% of all 4th graders in Maine in 2011 were reading below the proficiency level,” Peters told reporters. “61% of all 8th graders in Maine in 2011 were reading below the proficiency level for that grade.”That data is even more troubling since the report shows kids without a high school diploma are more likely to live in poverty and lead unhealthy lifestyles. Now that this report has made people aware of the problems, folks here say it’s time to start focusing on solutions. “Collectively we must focus on our young people from the early stages on up,” Peters said. “So that they are prepared to succeed as maine workers, as parents, and as good citizens. In the long run investing in early childhood education will save our state money.”The full Kids Count Data Book is available online at www.mekids.org.