From the teeming high-rise tenements of New York City’s Bronx County to the sparsely populated hamlets of rural Yates County, before the pandemic, more than 800,000 of the Empire State’s children were living in poverty and over 900,000 households were struggling to keep a roof over their heads, according to a new report.
The research and advocacy nonprofit Citizens’ Committee for the Children of New York said its study is the first to crunch the latest data from all 62 counties to create an index of child and family well-being. Researchers looked at 18 measures of risk levels across six broad domains: economic security, housing, health, education, youth, and family and community.
The study, released Monday, categorized 14 counties where the overall risk to children and families is “moderate.” One county, Bronx County, landed in the “highest risk” category, and the rest were deemed to be at “moderate low” or “lowest risk.” None landed at “moderate-high” risk.
Bijan Kimiagar, associate executive director for research at the citizens’ committee, said risk factors were examined across several domains and measured where they cluster because the presence of multiple risk factors can have a profound and detrimental impact on child and family well-being.
Executive Director Jennifer March noted that all the data came from pre-coronavirus days and that conditions have undoubtedly worsened in many ways and places.
“As COVID-19 has exacerbated risk factors,” March said, “a successful recovery is urgently dependent on forthcoming federal stimulus as well as the policy, budget and legislative decisions that will be made in the coming weeks and months by New York’s Governor and State Legislature.”
The Bronx was the only county inhabiting the highest risk category. The county ranked first or second in five of the six domains, with its best mark, 11, in health.
Kings, Oswego, Montgomery and Franklin ranked second to fifth overall, all in the moderate risk category. No county landed in the moderately high-risk category overall.
A few other highlights:
- About one-third of the state’s 62 counties have child poverty rates greater than the state average of more than 20%, even though in almost every one of these counties more than 90% of families with children had at least one working parent.
- About 43% of New Yorkers live in rented properties, and 27% of households are severely rent-burdened. This means they shell out at least 50% of their income for housing and report having trouble paying for necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care.
- In three counties — Franklin, Sullivan, and Seneca — fewer than 30% of students meet math and English language arts standards. More than 20 counties have graduation rates lower than the state average of 83%.