Bridgeport Children are Losing Ground
BRIDGEPORT, CT, 10/06/08 — In today’s uncertain times, Bridgeport children are barely keeping their heads above water.
Every year, the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (BCAC) reports the “State of the Child in Bridgeport.” This thoroughly-researched and well-documented report looks at key indicators of child well-being. The report compares Bridgeport’s children to children statewide. It also shows progress made from one year to the next.
This year’s report sadly shows that Bridgeport has not been able to sustain the gains it made last year. “Our 2007 report gave Bridgeport five A+’s, for achieving reductions in infant mortality, school dropout rate, child homelessness, child abuse and neglect and air pollution,” reports Barbara Edinberg, Assistant Director, BCAC. “Regrettably, three of those indicators received an “F” this year – infant mortality 50% worse; dropout rate 18% worse; children abused and neglected 12% worse. In addition, we saw an increase of more than 20% in births to teens under the age of 18 and a 15% increase in the percent of low birthweight babies.”
Edith Cassidy, BCAC Board Chair, says, “We are deeply concerned about the impact of unemployment, rising energy and food costs, and lack of affordable health coverage on Bridgeport’s children.” She adds, “How will parents manage to get their medical care and prescriptions? Will parents be forced to cut back on food purchases? Will more families fall behind on their rent and lose their housing? Bridgeport’s children already lag far behind on so many measures.”
Where is Bridgeport Failing?
Where is Bridgeport Improving?
Over 10,200 Bridgeport children lived in poverty in 2006, nearly 30% of all Bridgeport children, and an increase of 575 more children than in 2005.
Bridgeport’s rate of child poverty is more than twice the statewide rate and 50% higher than the national rate.
More than 95% of Bridgeport public school students were economically disadvantaged or lived in families earning less than $32,560 for a family of three. Statewide, 27% of the public school students are economically disadvantaged.
Of the 3rd – 8th grade students in Bridgeport public schools who took the Connecticut Mastery Test in spring 2008, 45% met federal standards of proficiency in reading, compared to 74% of students statewide.
The Class of 2006 had a dropout rate of 22.4%, compared to 19% for the Class of 2005.
In 2005, nearly 10% of all Bridgeport newborns weighed less than 5.5 pounds at birth. The number is an increase of 15% from the previous year. These babies are at risk for developmental delays and long-term disabilities.
Juvenile arrests for violent crimes decreased by nearly 20%, although they were still double the statewide rate.
The number of lead poisoned children decreased by 15%.
“More than ever, we need to be strong advocates for Bridgeport’s children,” urges Cassidy. “Our children cannot afford to lose more ground. We must continue to put the pressure on our local and state officials to achieve real change. All Bridgeport’s children deserve to be healthy, get a good education, be safe and have a roof over their heads. Their parents deserve jobs that move them out of poverty.”
The Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (BCAC) is a coalition of nearly 80 local agencies and community organizations committed to improving the well-being of local children. For over 20 years BCAC has combined research, advocacy, community education and mobilization to ensure health, safety, and education for all of Bridgeport’s children.
To schedule an interview with Barbara Edinberg, Assistant Director of the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, call 203-549-0075, extension 12. You may also call Nicole Bass at extension 10 to receive a copy of the 2008 State of the Child Report or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.