Maine ranked 11th overall in child well-being

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 7:24 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Monday is Child Tax Credit Awareness Day.

It was created by the federal government to ensure eligible parents know about the expanded Child Tax Credit.

To help, the IRS is launching a new portal on their website to help those who haven’t filed income taxes before.

Meanwhile, a national report released Monday shows Maine ranking 11th overall in child well-being.

The annual Kids Count Data Book examines all 50 states in the depths of the pandemic.

It shows Maine ranking fourth overall in family and community indicators.

Maine came in at 15th in the nation for poverty rates.

Back in 2017, Maine state had the nation’s highest reduction in child poverty and held steady for 2019 as well.

“This year’s Data Book indicates Maine needs to continue to implement policy solutions to address child poverty, like expanding tax credits, increasing living wages and making housing affordable to work toward lifting the 33,000 children and their families out of poverty in our state,” said Stephanie Eglinton, executive director of the Maine Children’s Alliance and a member of the KIDS COUNT network.

In education, Maine ranks 18th with a high school graduation rate of 87%, which is actually higher than the 86% national average. But the report also finds that 54%, or roughly 14,000, children ages 3 and 4 in Maine were not enrolled in preschool in 2019.

In the health domain, Maine comes in 12th, showing improvement since the 2017-2018 survey in teens ages 10 to 17 who have a healthy body weight. The Data Book also finds that 15,000 children in Maine did not have health insurance in 2019.

The Foundation used data from the U.S. Census bureau to assess some of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children in Maine.

That analysis found that 8% of adults in Maine who had children in their home did not have health insurance in 2020. By March of 2021, that number had fallen to 6%.

About 20% of adults with children in their homes said they felt down, depressed,

or hopeless in the months following the start of the pandemic in 2020. That was down to 16% in March 2021.

Technology continues to be a challenge for many families. The report found that 14% of households with children during 2020 said that they did not always have access to the internet and a computer or digital device for school purposes.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the most extraordinary crisis to hit families in decades,” said Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Deliberate policy decisions can help them recover, and we’re already seeing the beginnings of that. Policymakers should use this moment to repair the damage the pandemic has caused — and to address long-standing inequities it has exacerbated.”

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