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NH ranks first in Kids Count survey of children's well-being

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 27. 2018 10:49PM

CONCORD — New Hampshire ranks tops in the country in children’s well-being, according to a national survey released Wednesday.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count report, based on data compiled in 2016, ranks the Granite State first overall and second in economic well-being, with drops in the number of children living in households with high-cost burdens and children living in poverty.

“Up to this point, in New Hampshire, local communities have stepped up to the plate to ensure child well-being even when state investments are lacking,” said Rebecca Woitkowski, early childhood policy coordinator at New Futures Kids Count. “Going forward, our lawmakers should be looking to address some major issues facing our state when it comes to supporting children, including child protection and the continuing opiate crisis.”

New Hampshire also topped the list last year. Massachusetts ranked second-best in child well-being, with New Jersey placing third. New Mexico ranked last among the 50 states.

According to a release, the annual Kids Count Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four categories — health, education, economic well-being and family and community — representing what children need most to thrive.

According to the report, New Hampshire ranks:

Third in economic well-being. New Hampshire had the lowest rate of child poverty at 8 percent in the nation, with 20,000 New Hampshire children living below the federal poverty line. However, that number doesn’t necessarily take into account the high cost of living in New Hampshire, as discussed by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute.

Fourth in education. New Hampshire ranked 11th in the nation for the number of 3- and 4-year-olds not attending school. Fifty percent of young children are not receiving early education, which research has demonstrated is critical for development and long-term success.

Second in health. Five percent of New Hampshire’s teens abused alcohol and drugs, giving New Hampshire a rank of 24th in the country for that indicator, by far New Hampshire’s lowest ranking. The Granite State’s opiate epidemic is a continued area of concern. Research shows that fighting adverse childhood experiences in early childhood helps to mitigate future substance misuse.

Second in family and community. The number of children living in single-parent families, 29 percent, and the number of children living in high-poverty areas, 2 percent, have both shown negative trends since 2010, when those were 27 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

“Lawmakers must support families as a whole to continue to ensure New Hampshire children are given what they need to thrive,” said Woitkowski in a statement. “Supporting a system of Family Resource Centers and access to home visiting are some first steps our lawmakers should take to keep New Hampshire a great state to live, work and raise a family.”

The report can be viewed below:

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