For the first time since 2007, Governor Gina Raimondo convened the Children’s Cabinet to set a plan in order to promote opportunities for Rhode Island children, by establishing policies and budget plans directed towards children and their needs.
National data from KIDS COUNT, an organization that helps to mold better futures for children who are at risk of experiencing poor education, health, and socioeconomic factors, ranked Rhode Island as the 31st state in the nation for child well being. Rhode Island was also the lowest ranked among New England states, partially due to increases in the percentage of children living in poverty.
The Cabinet has three specific goals: to create a five-year strategic plan that will improve outcomes for children and their families; to establish policies and performance metrics for each state department; and measure progress on collaborative initiatives for children across these departments.
“All kids deserve to make it in Rhode Island,” Raimondo said. “As a parent, I am focused on giving my kids every opportunity to succeed. We must provide every Rhode Island kid with that same opportunity. When we invest in our kids, we’re investing in our future, workforce and economy. Working together, across government and with the community, we can set our families and our state on a path for a healthy, stable future.”
Raimondo appointed Health and Human Services Secretary Elizabeth Roberts as the Cabinet’s chair. As the chair, she will guide the Cabinet in their efforts to improve children’s well being across the state.
“Every child deserves an opportunity for a safe, healthy, successful, and bright future,” Roberts said. “It is our responsibility as public officials- and as caretakers of the state they will inherit- to protect that opportunity.”
During their meeting, the Cabinet spoke on several topics, such as a new agency-wide policy on human trafficking, child welfare, early childhood education, and strengthening collaboration between the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), and the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH).
The Cabinet was established in 1991, but saw several changes during the 2015 legislative session. The statue that created the group was amended to better integrate state services across departments and agencies, as well as adding the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Child Advocate, and the Governor as members.