As the nation's economy recovers, New Hampshire's children perform well in most measures of child well-being, leading to an overall ranking of number one in the nation for overall child well-being, according to new data in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT® Data Book. However, there are two troubling areas - an ever-growing poverty rate and a decline in overall child health.
Ranked 16th in the nation for health and wellness, down from 10th in 2012, New Hampshire children continue to progress but have gained only incrementally since 2010, falling short of where they stood before the recession. New Hampshire still does better than the national average on the percentage of babies born with low-birthweights and the number of child and teen deaths; however the number of children in New Hampshire without health insurance still remains too high at 10,000 children. Most concerning is the percentage of teens abusing alcohol and drugs which is two percent greater than the national average.
"New Hampshire's ranking as first in the nation for the overall well-being of our children reinforces once again our standing as the best state in the country to raise a family," Governor Hassan said. "While we are proud of our progress , it's clear we must do more to reduce the number of uninsured children in our state and to address the issues of alcohol and drug abuse among our young people so they can live healthy lives and reach their full potential."
New Hampshire saw marked improvement in education across all indicators of well-being. From 2005 to 2011, children missing out on preschool declined by 14 percent, while high school students not graduating on time also fell by 5 percent. Proficiency in math and reading increased statewide by 4 and 11 percent respectively.
Although the economic well-being of New Hampshire's children improved slightly from 2010 to 2011, the negative impact of the recession remains evident. In 2011, the child poverty rate stood at 11 percent in New Hampshire, or 33,000 children- an increase of 2,000 children since 2009. The number of children living in households in New Hampshire where both parents are unemployed-65,000 in 2011 - is a minor improvement from the previous year, but was still about 4,000 more than before the recession.
"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," Governor Hassan said. "By investing in K-12 and higher education, and by providing our businesses with targeted tax credits and technical assistance, we can help improve the economic security for New Hampshire's children."
"The Children's Alliance of New Hampshire is proud of this designation from the Annie Casey Foundation and all that our state accomplishes for its children. But for a state that ranks first in overall child well-being, New Hampshire still ranks 7th in economic security and 16th in health. 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, "said Ellen Fineberg, Executive Director of the Children's Alliance of New Hampshire.
"With the critical investments in our bipartisan, balanced budget agreement, and by moving forward with accepting the $2.5 billion in federal funds for Medicaid expansion, we have the opportunity build on our progress on behalf of our children by strengthening the health and economic wellbeing of New Hampshire's working families," Governor Hassan concluded.
For New Hampshire specific data, please visit www.childrennh.org for city and county based data on the well-being of children. The KIDS COUNT Data Book features the latest data on child well-being for every state, the District of Columbiaand the nation. This information is available in the newly redesigned KIDS COUNT Data Center, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of measures of child well-being.
The Children's Alliance of New Hampshire is the state-designated KIDS Count organization for New Hampshire. A nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization with a 25 year history, the Children's Alliance of New Hampshire collaborates with advocates, business and community leaders and policy makers to ensure the wellbeing of children in New Hampshire.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation's children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.