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What you should know about R.I.’s kids during the coronavirus crisis

Stuffed toys (mostly Teddy bears) are being placed in windows or under porches to give children a fun and safe activity while walking around their neighborhood with parents in Washington.ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images

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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I think I might be obsessed with Google’s 3D animal feature on my iPhone. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

Let’s start with the most recent facts and figures: Rhode Island was up to 1,229 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, and 30 people had died. There were 123 residents in the hospital, and 40 people were in intensive care. The state health department has a full breakdown here.


Rhode Island Kids Count, the state’s leading child advocacy organization, released its annual fact book on Tuesday, covering a wide range of factors when it comes to childhood well-being.

The report always makes for essential reading, but the last month has served as a stark reminder of the challenges our children face in this state. You should take some time to read the entire fact book, but here are some key statistics that are relevant to the coronavirus crisis.

A lot of children are living with their grandparents

Between 2014 and 2018, more than 14,000 children lived in a household headed by their grandparents, and more than 6,000 children lived in households where grandparents were financially responsible for them. We already know that grandparents often become the heads of households during custody battles, prison sentences, or when a parent dies. With older people especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, this could become an even more difficult time for kids who depend on elderly relatives.

Most kids have health insurance

This is always good news, but especially so now. Only 2.2 percent of Rhode Island children didn’t have health insurance in 2018, which meant the state was third-best in the country (and third-best in New England, behind Vermont and Massachusetts).


Many children rely on school for meals

This is important right now because it’s unclear whether public schools will reopen at all this year. As of October 2019, more than 31,000 children each day ate breakfast at school, including one-in-four kids who live in poverty. While districts have done a good job so far when it comes to providing meals while students are distance learning, it’s difficult to know whether every child is still taking advantage of the option if they aren’t coming to school each day.

The cost of housing continues to rise

With more than 100,000 unemployment claims filed in the last month, it’s likely that evictions are going to increase in the coming months. We know that the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Rhode Island has increased from $1,393 in 2014 to $1,651 in 2019, and nearly half of all renters spend at least 30 percent of their income on rent. Luckily, the courts have placed a hold on evictions for the time being.

Job insecurity is a major problem

These figures don’t take into account the coronavirus, but we know that 30 percent of children in Rhode Island were living in families where no parent had full-time, year-round employment in 2018. That ranked Rhode Island 42nd in the country.



Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you've got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what's happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

  • BIRTHDAYS: Rhode Map readers seem to like sharing upcoming birthdays, so we’ll keep it going. If you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.
  • This morning: The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and the SBA are hosting a virtual discussion on federal small business loans at 8:30 a.m.
  • Governor Gina Raimondo’s daily press conference on the coronavirus is at 2:30 p.m. (Note the time change.)
  • The Rhode Island Pharmacists Association is hosting a Facebook Live town hall event on the coronavirus at 6:30 p.m.
  • Enjoying Rhode Map? Do us a favor and encourage your friends to sign up here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to dan.mcgowan@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you this afternoon.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him @danmcgowan.