from the Connecticut Post
By LINDA CONNER LAMBECK
BRIDGEPORT -- In just a year, encouraging signs on the status of Bridgeport's children have tanked, plummeting in several categories from a grade of A-plus to F in the annual report issued Monday by the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition.
The infant mortality rate has increased 50 percent from the agency's 2007 report. The city's dropout rate has risen 18 percent. Cases of abused or neglected children spiked 12 percent. And there is a 20 percent boost in the number of teenagers having babies.
"In today's uncertain times, Bridgeport children are barely keeping their heads above water," said Barbara Edinberg, the BCAC assistant director, in releasing its 2008 "State of the Child in Bridgeport."
Edith Cassidy, the BCAC board chairwoman, said she is deeply concerned about the negative impact of growing unemployment, rising energy and food costs, and the lack of affordable health coverage on Bridgeport's children.
"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," Cassidy said.
Edinberg blames poverty for reversing the direction of positive trends noted in the 2007 report.
Using the most current data available, the coalition grades 21 indicators of child well-being for its annual assessment. The agency stacks those indicators up against statewide data. In almost all measures, Bridgeport children fare poorly compared to those elsewhere in the state.
The report finds that more than 10,200 Bridgeport children, nearly one-third of all city children, lived in poverty in 2006, an increase of 575 over 2005. Bridgeport's child poverty rate is more than twice the statewide figure and 50 percent higher than the national rate.
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