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New report says economic well-being of Maine's children has improved, yet still behind other states

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The economic well-being of Maine's children has improved over the past few years, but a new report says that Maine is still well behind other New England states.

According to the latest edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book, the number of children in poverty in Maine declined from 2019 to 2022, and more parents found secure employment.

The state is seeing a lower child poverty rate, better health insurance coverage and fewer teen births. But Maine ranks lower when it comes to the number of students proficient in reading and math.

But while Maine ranks 15th overall for children's well-being, that's still behind neighboring states such as New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Rita Furlow, with the Maine Childrens' Alliance, said Massachusetts, in particular, has invested heavily in education for decades.

"This is certainly an area that we could do better in our state."

Furlow said the data highlight the need for more investments in education. Furlow said she was encouraged to see $10 million in new state funding dedicated for reading and literacy training earlier this year.

"I think we also need to make sure we're investing in tutoring, for kids who aren't doing as well, who were significantly impacted by the pandemic, and are still struggling," she said.

Many schools used pandemic relief funds to pay for tutoring programs, but that money is set to expire over the next few months.

Maine ranked relatively high in the report for measures of family and community well-being, including only 2% of children living in high-poverty areas.