Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Poster Session

Department

Muskie School of Public Service

Advisor

Brenda Joly PhD

Keywords

child poverty, childhood development, physical health, mental health, Maine

Abstract

Children who live below the national poverty line account for nearly one fifth of Maine’s overall population. Child poverty is a determinant of health that can lead to negative health outcomes that affect childhood development, educational achievement, as well as physical and mental health. The purpose of this study was to identify five Maine counties with the highest rates of child poverty according to the national average. Comparison of poverty rates between counties were analyzed along with two leading health indicators – mental and physical distress. This study used 2016 county-level childhood poverty estimates, assessed by the American Community Survey conducted by the United States census. Data collected from the County Health Rankings initiative were used to identify child poverty as well as rates of mental and physical distress rankings by county in 2016. Comparisons of the descriptive data were made to determine connections between these three factors. We found that the five counties with the highest rates of child poverty are Somerset, Washington, Piscataquis, Aroostook, and Franklin county (30%, 28%, 28%, 22%, 20%). These five counties are also more than ninety percent rural, have a larger measurement of premature deaths, and produce larger violent crime rates per county compared to the remaining eleven state counties. The results from this study will spotlight a vulnerable population including additional health indicators to be addressed when developing best-practice interventions.

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