FIle photo of a child playing in a puddle. A new report ranks Maine's counties when it comes to health, and childhood poverty levels are a key indicator. Credit: Pixabay

The health of Maine’s counties are ranked in a new national report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Cumberland County is the healthiest, while Washington County was found to be the least healthy.

Senior program officer Tara Oakman says the Cumberland County ranks well below the national average in one key health indicator: poverty. She says, though, that there’s still room for improvement.

“Eleven percent of kids in Cumberland County live in poverty, but we still see huge disparities,” says Oakman. “For example, while it’s 11 percent overall, it’s 53 percent of black children live in poverty.”

That figure is compared the U.S. average of 20 percent.

Oakman also says that the childhood poverty rate is a major factor in Washington County’s ranking; there, the rate is 28 percent.

“How you live your earliest years can impact your lifelong health,” she says.

Oakman says childhood poverty can impact lifelong health because it causes stress and can limit access to quality education, food, and physical activity.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public