Mostly good news for Granite State kids in study
This marks the sixth year in a row that New Hampshire earned the No. 1 ranking of overall child well-being from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The state scored high in education, as well as family and community indicators, which track teen births and children of families experiencing divorce.
However, the Children's Alliance of New Hampshire pointed out two areas it found troubling — an increase in the poverty rate and a decline in overall child health.
New Hampshire still ranks 7th in economic security and 16th in health, said Ellen Fineberg, executive director of the Children's Alliance."That's simply not good enough. New Hampshire still has children living in poverty; children without health insurance; children going hungry; we must continue working to improve the lives of our state's children and youth," Fineberg said in the report released Monday.
New Hampshire outperforms the national average for low-birth weight babies and child and teen deaths. But the percentage of teens abusing alcohol and drugs is 2 percent points higher than the national average. And 10,000 of the state's children aren't covered by health insurance.
In remarks distributed by the Children's Alliance, Gov. Maggie Hassan said the overall ranking shows New Hampshire is the best place in the country to raise a family. But she said more must be done to reduce the number of uninsured children and substance abuse.
"Building a stronger, more innovative economic future that will create good jobs and lift all of New Hampshire's children and families remains our state's most important priority," Hassan said.
Much of the data about poverty and economic measures is from 2011.
Then, the child poverty rate stood at 11 percent in New Hampshire, or 33,000 children. That represents an increase of 2,000 children since 2009. While the Children's Alliance said the economic well-being of children in 2011 improved slightly from the previous year, the state still lags behind its pre-recession levels.
New Hampshire-specific data is available at www.childrennh.org. Details for the entire country are at datacenter.kidscount.org.