This week, the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (BCAC) released their 2012 Report on the State of the Child in Bridgeport. In it, BCAC assesses the well-being of children in Bridgeport compared to the rest of the state. They use the categories of child poverty, early care, education, child health, housing, and child safety, and contributing factors within them, to make this assessment.
Fairfield County and the city of Bridgeport are a microcosm of the growing inequality between Connecticut’s rich and poor that is demonstrated in the CT Voices and CAHS report discussed in last week’s post. Explains BCAC: “While Fairfield County as a whole has begun to see economic recovery, Bridgeport is not sharing in this recovery.” While the state of children in Bridgeport is itself alarming, it is especially horrific when compared to the rest of Fairfield County.
- The poverty rate for Bridgeport children (39.9%) is three times higher than that of Fairfield County (12.8%) and the unemployment rate is nearly two times higher.
- The median income of Fairfield County families with children under the age of 18 ($109,663) is nearly four times more than that of Bridgeport families ($29,647), a disparity of $80,016. The gap is larger between Bridgeport and Fairfield County than any other city and county in Connecticut.
While many factors contribute to children’s well-being, the urgent need for licensed child care in Bridgeport is obvious:
- In 2011, 80% of children under the age of six lived in families in which all of the adults were in the labor force.
- The median income of Bridgeport families is $29,647. The average cost for full-time licensed child care for one year is nearly half that: $13,785 for infants and toddlers and $11,680 for preschool age children.
- In Bridgeport there were 30 fewer licensed child care spaces for infants and toddlers in 2011 than in 2010.
- Lack of sufficient child care is a problem statewide, with only 21 spaces per 100 children under three in 2011. In Bridgeport the problem is extreme, with only 13 licensed spaces per 100 children.
Though daunting, these figures show just how necessary the work of All Our Kin is in the Bridgeport area. By increasing the availability, accessibility, and quality of licensed child care in Bridgeport, parents, children, and entire communities will benefit. In New Haven, we have seen this as a “triple win” as caregivers are able to open their own businesses, parents can enter the workforce knowing their children are safe and cared for, and children receive the positive early learning experiences that will enable them to excel in kindergarten and beyond.
Kudos to BCAC for raising awareness about the dire state of children’s well-being in Bridgeport, and for calling upon residents and local, state, and federal government alike to seek solutions. To read the full report, click here.