A report released today by the nonprofit New Hampshire Kids Count finds that across 32 unique indicators of child well-being, both where a child lives and the child's economic situation significantly affect his or her opportunities and life outcomes.
New Hampshire Kids Count 2015 Data Book provides a statistical look at 279,716 NH children from birth through young adulthood using data in five key areas: family and community, health and wellness, education, safety and well being, and economic security. The report also features county-by-county data summaries.
Some of the most significant statewide findings include:
- Our child population is changing. Reduced by more than 12% since 2000, the largest numbers of children are concentrated in the most populous southern counties of the state. The state's child population is primarily white (87.2%). Five percent of children in NH are Hispanic, 2.7 percent are Asian and 1,8 percent are African-American.
- Child poverty persists. 11.1% of children younger than 18 years of age live in families with incomes of less than $25,000 a year for a family of four (two adults and two children), which is the official child poverty level. Research shows that living in poverty, even for a short time, has long-term negative cognitive, physical and economic affects for both children and families.
- Where you live matters. Although employment rates have increased since the Great Recession, many NH family incomes have not rebounded to their pre-2008 levels. Families with fewer economic resources turn to a mix of public and private sources to provide subsidies for essential services such as rent, heat, child care, food and medical care. The availability of these services varies significantly by county.
- Community Mental Health Centers served 12,258 children last year, providing vital mental health services not only to children but their families too. Yet Sullivan and Coos Counties do not have a single community mental health center.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, gave 48,536 children (17.9% statewide) access to healthy, nutritious food. Rates varied significantly among counties with Belknap County enrolling 25.1% and Hillsborough County enrolling 18.5% of all children.
- All New Hampshire counties require a livable wage that is two to three times higher than the minimum wage. A single-parent with two children in Rockingham County would have to make a livable wage of $27.61 an hour, or almost 4 times the minimum wage of $7.25, to provide for the family's basic needs.
Ellen Fineberg, executive director NH Kids Count, was quoted in a press release, saying, "As the NH Kids Count Data Book research documents, we live in a vibrant state with strong regional differences. As citizens, we need to celebrate those differences when they lift up children and their families. Where children are struggling, we must examine the causes and work towards solutions that benefit everyone. The Data Book empowers Granite State residents to propel all NH children forward by enhancing our strengths and improving our deficiencies."
"There is not a single data point that does not impact or reflect the families and youth we support," said Kathleen Abate of the Granite State Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health.