NH ranks among the best for child welfare, but challenges remain

After a difficult year of pandemic that left many families grappling with disruptions at school and work, as well as mental health challenges, New Hampshire ranked second in the country for overall well-being of children, according to a new report.

Yet data shows that families with children continue to struggle with health, poverty, housing affordability and education.

The national ranking comes from the 2021 Kids Count report, which analyzes data from surveys conducted by the US Census Bureau, ranks its results in four areas – economic well-being, education, health, and family / community. It shows that young people in all states continue to struggle with educational disruptions and mental health issues in the wake of the pandemic.

“Without a response, the negative impacts of these crises cannot be overstated,” said Rebecca Woitkowski, Kids Count policy coordinator at New Futures, Annie E. Casey Foundation partner for the report. “When children experience trauma, they are exposed to future health problems, including substance abuse, mental health problems and even premature death.”

The Granite State ranked fifth in the country for education, but the report shows some significant issues remain. Among fourth-graders in New Hampshire, 62% of students scored below reading proficiency levels for their age group, a rating that is generally used as an indicator of overall educational development. And among the state’s eighth-grade students, 62% scored below proficiency levels in math.

The report shows that education has been severely disrupted by the COVID pandemic. In March, 39% of New Hampshire households had young people who canceled their post-secondary education plans during the pandemic or said they would take fewer classes than expected, according to the report.

The economic well-being of New Hampshire children and families has improved over the past decade, according to the report, which examines the number of poor children, families without secure jobs, high housing costs and unemployed adolescents who do not go to school. . New Hampshire has a 7% child poverty rate, with nearly 18,000 children living below the federal poverty line, compared to a national average of 17%.

Yet during the pandemic, 14% of households with children said they had little or no confidence in their ability to pay their rent or mortgage on time.

New Hampshire ranked first in the country for the report’s family and community category, due to a decrease in the number of children living in lone-parent families (28%) and areas of high poverty (less than 1% ).

Health concerns remain, although Granite State ranked third in the country for child health. During the pandemic, mental health suffered among parents in New Hampshire. In March, 19% of adults living in households with children said they had felt overwhelmed, depressed or hopeless in the past week.

As of 2019, 4% of children in Granite State are still not covered by health insurance. .

“We know that in our state, not all children have access to services that will reduce the negative impacts of this troubling situation. [pandemic]”Woitkowski said.” Now more than ever, equitable economic and health supports are needed to help families in Granite State thrive. “

This is the second year that New Hampshire has been ranked second in child welfare, behind Massachusetts. New England states Vermont and Connecticut also made the top 10. The lowest ranked states for child well-being were Mississippi, New Mexico, and Louisiana.

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Julio V. Miller

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