2020 NEW HAMPSHIRE KIDS COUNT REPORT – INDICATORS OF CHILD WELL-BEING
New national data shows that New Hampshire ranks second in the United States for overall child well-being. The number two ranking, released as part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2020 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, is a welcomed recognition, but it reveals a drop from first in 2019, leaving room to improve supports and services for Granite State children and families, especially under the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
“New Hampshire is frequently ranked among the best states in the nation to raise a family, but many children across our sate still struggle to access the support they need to thrive,” said Rebecca Woitkowski, Kids Count policy coordinator for New Futures, New Hampshire’s leading health policy and advocacy organization. “This is true now more than ever as COVID-19 has overwhelmed our communities and threatened the stability of our children and families, especially among people of color, who have been disproportionally impacted by this public health crisis.”
In New Hampshire and across the country, child well-being has broadly improved in the three decades since the first Data Book was released. Still, national data mask a great deal of state and regional variation in child well-being. A child’s chances of thriving depend not only on individual and family characteristics but also on the community in which she or he is born and raised.
Quality, affordable childcare and family supports, like home visiting and other services offered at family resource centers, are evidence-based programs that lay the foundation for the brain’s developing architecture, setting a sturdy or fragile stage for all of the learning, health, and behavior that follows. Yet, across the Granite State, many children are raised in communities with underfunded public schools as well as lack of access to affordable quality childcare, Family Resource Centers and other critical supports that are proven to mitigate adverse childhood experiences.
THIS YEAR'S KEY TAKEAWAYS:
The annual KIDS COUNT Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains — health, education, economic well-being, and family and community that represent the supports children need most to thrive. Some of the report’s key takeaways include:
- New Hampshire economic well-being rank improved from 10th in 2019 to 6th in 2020. Even with this improvement, 10% of New Hampshire Children are still living in poverty. Growing up in poverty is a threat to healthy child development, increasing the likelihood of poor academic, cognitive and health outcomes. The dangers of economic hardship are greatest among children who are very young and who experience persistent and deep poverty.
- New Hampshire ranked fifth in education, but 62% of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading. Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical marker in a child’s educational development. By fourth grade, children are expected to use reading to learn other subjects. Therefore, mastery of reading at this level becomes important for students to keep up academically.
- New Hampshire ranked second in health in 2019 but sixth in 2020. Children’s good health is fundamental to their overall development, and ensuring kids are born healthy is the first step toward improving their life chances. Poor health in childhood affects other critical aspects of a child’s life, such as school readiness and attendance, and can have lasting consequences on their future health and well-being. Although health domain rankings from this year and last year cannot be directly compared because one of the four health indicators was changed, this area bears monitoring.
- Lawmakers must pass policies that support families. Quality, affordable childcare and family supports, like home visiting and other services offered at family resource centers, are evidence-based programs that lay the foundation for the brain’s developing architecture, setting a sturdy or fragile stage for all of the learning, health, and behavior that follows. Yet, across the Granite State, many children are raised in communities with underfunded public schools as well as lack of access to affordable quality childcare, Family Resource Centers and other critical supports that are proven to mitigate adverse childhood experiences.
The 2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book is available at https://www.aecf.org/resources/2020-kids-count-data-book/. Additional information is available at www.aecf.org. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about the Data Book can use the KIDS COUNT Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org.
About the Annie E. Casey Foundation: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.